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Santa Monica State Assembly Representative Names Transgender Activist AD50 Woman of the Year

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By Jason Islas
Lookout reporter

March 7, 2014 -- Former Santa Monica Mayor Richard Bloom, who represents the bayside city in the State Assembly, named transgender activist Desiree Jade Sol Assembly District 50’s Woman of the Year Thursday.

Bloom gave Sol -- a transgender woman -- the honor, which is awarded annually to women in each of the State Senate and Assembly districts, for her work advancing equal rights for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people in Assembly District (AD) 50, officials said.

Sol, who received sexual reassignment surgery after years of hormone therapy while holding down two jobs, serves on the City of West Hollywood’s Public Safety Commission.

“I am extremely honored and humbled to be recognized as Woman of the Year for all that I do in the community and on behalf of equal rights,” Sol, who lives in West Hollywood, told The Lookout.

Santa Monica, Beverly Hills, Brentwood and Malibu are also part of AD 50.

“It is amazing to be embraced by so many wonderful people and to know that no matter how small the action or task, it has made a difference in someone's life,” she said.

“As a transgendered woman I am proud to bring visibility to a community that is underserved,” said Sol. “This award allows me to dispel the misconceptions society has placed on the transgendered community.”

In addition to being a member of the Police Commission and serving as its chair, Sol has served on the city’s Transgender Advisory Board and as sub-committee chair on the City of Los Angeles Human Relations Commission’s Transgender Working Group.

Sol’s work also extends to Transgeneros Unidas program, part of BIENESTAR, a nonprofit organization that targets Latino gay, lesbian, bi-sexual and transgender people for HIV/AIDS prevention education.

Through Transgenero Unidas, Sol went to Washington DC to lobby for the passage of Employment Non Discrimination Act (EDNA), she said.

“I felt empowered as the lead speaker to communicate the personal struggles of a transgendered individual,” she said.

But there is still much work to be done, Sol said.

“There is injustice, in employment, housing and healthcare. We see it every day and it’s so difficult to try to get people to care,” she said.

“Equality for all is a very simple concept, yet we still have so many obstacles.

Sol -- who has played the part of a transgender woman on stage -- says her work is as personal as it is political.

“I was proud to play the part of Maria in Cornerstone Theater's ‘Making Paradise,’” she said. “As one of the lead actors and playing a transgendered woman, this was inspiring for my community and the rave reviews received were the best validation.”

An avid sports enthusiast, Sol can be seen playing dodgeball, softball and cheerleading.

“I'm also the only female West Hollywood Cheerleader,” she said. “We do pride parades, fundraisers, and our mission is to raise awareness for HIV education and erase the stigma surrounding the disease.”

As for relaxation, she spends her time with “Miguel and Ru Stevens-Ortiz and their beautiful triplets,” she said. “This is truly a loving family, and I am so lucky to be a part of it and receive all that unconditional love.”

Since 1987, State Senators and Assemblymembers each honor one woman in their respective districts annually for their accomplishments. Sol, along with the rest of this year’s nominees, will be recognized at the Capitol in a formal ceremony, sponsored by the Women’s Caucus.

In 2003, Theresa Sparks from San Francisco became the first transgender woman ever to be named a California State Assembly "Woman of the Year" for her work as an activist in the LGBT community.

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