A disability rights advocate has become the second openly transgender person to serve as a judge in California, and the first-ever transgender appointee in history after being tapped by California Gov. Gavin Newsom for a position on the bench.
Andi Mudryk, 58, the chief deputy director at the state’s Department of Rehabilitation, was appointed to the Sacramento County Superior Court on Friday to fill the vacancy left by retiring Judge Benjamin Davidian, reports The Press Democrat.
She follows in the path of Alameda Superior Court Judge Victoria Kolakowski, who became the first openly transgender judge in the state after she was elected to her current position in 2010. Kolakowski later praised Murdyk’s appointment on Twitter.
“Andi Mudryk is a great appointment and will be a wonderful judge,” Kolakowski tweeted. “I’m glad to finally have a trans colleague on the bench in California.”
Mudryk who was first named chief deputy director at the California Department of Rehabilitation in 2020, previously served as the department’s chief counsel from 2018 to 2020.
A graduate of George Washington University’s School of Law, she also previously served as director of litigation and policy advocacy at Neighborhood Legal Services of Los Angeles County, executive director of Disability Rights Advocates, and director of litigation and advocacy at the Arizona Center for Disability Law, according to The Hill.
Mudryk’s appointment comes as Newsom seeks to leave a legacy of diversity on California courts. On Monday, just days after appointing Mudryk, Newsom swore in Justice Patricia Guerrero as the first Latina on the California Supreme Court. In 2020, he nominated the first openly gay justice, Martin Jenkins, who is the third Black person to serve on the high court.
Equality California, the state’s largest LGBTQ organization, hailed Mudryk’s appointment and its timing, which coincides with efforts by Republican-run legislatures to pass various anti-LGBTQ bills into law, specifically laws targeting the transgender community, such as bans on transgender athletes or prohibitions on the kinds of medical care that trans youth can access.
“As governors and state legislatures across the country attack the trans community, we applaud Gov. Newsom’s continued commitment to increasing trans representation,” Tony Hoang, the executive director of Equality California, said in a statement. “California continues to remind the rest of the country that LGBTQ+ voices are essential to achieve full equality.”
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