California makes history with first openly transgender judge appointed to bank

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One of California’s eight newest judges is the first openly transgender appointed to the bench in the Golden State, officials said.

Andi Mudryk, 58, will serve as a judge on the Sacramento County Superior Court to fill the vacancy left by the retirement of Judge Benjamin Davidian, Governor Gavin Newsom’s office said Friday when announcing a series of judicial appointments and nominations.

“I am humbled, honored and excited,” Mudryk told The Times on Friday. “I am grateful to Gov. Newsom for creating a vision of California for everyone.”

Mudryk has lived in Sacramento since 2009 and said she is proud to serve the community.

She vowed to use her experiences to ensure that anyone who appears before her is welcome in the justice system.

Mudryk said her experiences as a transgender woman, a person with significant disabilities, the parent of an adult black man and the descendant of Jewish Holocaust survivors sparked a legal career in which she advocated for the civil rights of all people.

Born with osteogenesis imperfecta, which is commonly known as brittle bone disease, she said she has had more than 100 fractures in her life.

Mudryk said she is proud to be transgender, having transitioned in the past four years, and has been accepted and promoted as part of Newsom’s government.

She spent the first half of her legal career in private practice, including nearly 11 years at Disability Rights California, where she served as a lawyer, trial director and deputy director.

She also served as director of litigation and policy advocacy at Neighborhood Legal Services of Los Angeles County from 2017 to 2018 and executive director at Disability Rights Advocates in 2017, according to Newsom’s office.

In 2018, Mudryk joined the California Department of Rehabilitation, where she became its chief counselor until 2020, when she was promoted to deputy director of the department, her most recent position, according to the governor’s office. She also served as director of litigation and advocacy at the Arizona Center for Disability Law from 2002 to 2006.

Mudryk received her law degree from George Washington University Law School in 1989.

Her appointment has been praised by the legal and LGBTQ communities.

“The values ​​of diversity, equity and inclusion are fundamental to the mission of the State Bar, and I thank our Commission on Judicial Nominees Evaluation for their important work, and I applaud Governor Newsom for his commitment to a diverse judiciary,” Leah Wilson, executive director of the State Bar of California, said in a statement. “The appointment of Supreme Court Justice Andi Mudryk is a touchstone in California history that will lead to more opportunities for transgender people in the legal profession.”

According to Equality California, the nation’s largest LGBTQ civil rights organization, Mudryk will become California’s second openly transgender judge.

“A veteran civil rights advocate, Mudryk brings nearly 20 years of experience in disability rights and rehabilitation to the courts,” said a statement from Tony Hoang, executive director of Equality California. “As governors and state legislators across the country attack the trans community, we applaud the Newsom administration’s continued commitment to increase trans representation on appointments and on the bench.”

Victoria Kolakowski became the state’s first openly transgender judge when she was elected to the Alameda County Superior Court in November 2010, according to Equality California.

Kolakowski congratulated Mudryk in a tweet on Friday.

“Andi Mudryk is a great appointment and will be a great judge,” Kolakowski wrote:† “I’m happy to finally have a trans colleague on the couch in California.”

The California Judges Assn. also praised the nomination.

“The historic selection of the first openly transgender on the bench represents an important milestone in ensuring that our judiciary is reflective of the diverse communities it serves,” said Rupert Byrdsong, a Los Angeles County judge. Superior Court which also serves as the president of the association.

“As CJA embraces its commitment to diversity and inclusion, we applaud Governor Newsom’s wisdom in selecting Ms Mudryk – an exemplary and well-qualified candidate,” Byrdsong said.

This story originally appeared in the Los Angeles Times.

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