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Mayor Lee Announces Appointment of Theresa Sparks as Mayor’s Senior Advisor for Transgender Initiatives

San Francisco, CA—Mayor Edwin M. Lee today announced the appointment of Theresa Sparks as the Mayor’s Senior Advisor on Transgender Initiatives to work directly with the Mayor and City Administrator on LGBTQ policies and oversee development of new transgender initiatives.

San Francisco is the first city in the nation to have a position dedicated to advancing the rights of and creating policies for the transgender community.

“We should be adding more protections to prevent discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender communities in the United States, not taking them away,” said Mayor Lee. “With 11 states suing the Obama administration over the rights of transgender individuals, and many states on the verge of passing more discriminatory laws, San Francisco must lead the fight against this inequity.”

As the Mayor’s Senior Advisor, Sparks will assist in leading the Mayors Against Discrimination (MAD) coalition, which the mayor helped form in the wake of discriminatory laws enacted against LGBT individuals in North Carolina and Mississippi. MAD applies direct political and economic pressure to repeal or stop the alarming spread of discriminatory laws in the United States.

“Sparks has been a leader in our City on human rights issues, and will ensure San Francisco continues to lead on one of the most important civil rights issues of our time – equality for the LGBT community,” said Mayor Lee.

Sparks will oversee City funded projects for the transgender community, assist other City departments in their projects and programming for the transgender community, and create an analysis of gaps in the City’s service delivery particularly in the areas of violence prevention, health care, employment services, the criminal justice system and community empowerment.

Sparks has a national reputation as an effective human rights advocate and leader. She was appointed as the Executive Director of the San Francisco Human Rights Commission (HRC) in July 2009 and has been instrumental in a number of ground-breaking human rights accomplishments in San Francisco, many of which have been emulated in other jurisdictions and around the world. Sparks was actively involved in the San Francisco’s Transgender Health Care Ordinance, which requires coverage for all transition-related medical treatment for employees of the City and County of San Francisco.

Sparks served as an HRC Commissioner from 2001-2004 and a San Francisco Police Commissioner from 2004-2009, during the last two years of which she was appointed President. As former President of the San Francisco Police Commission, Sparks helped institute nationally acclaimed protocols governing interactions between law enforcement and transgender individuals

Her appointment is effective July 1, 2016.