LSU Law grad becomes first openly transgender elected as judge

Published: Nov. 18, 2010 at 12:03 AM CST|Updated: Nov. 21, 2010 at 10:35 PM CST
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By Jim Shannon - bio | email

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - An LSU Law School graduate recently won an election in Alameda County, California outside San Francisco as a Superior Court judge. That is California's equivalent to a State District Court judge in Louisiana.

Michael Kolakowski graduated from LSU Law in 1989. On Monday, Victoria Kolakowski won the bench in Oakland. Michael and Victoria are one in the same.

Judge-elect Victoria Kolakowski said her years at LSU were memorable and wonderful. She said her final years as "Michael" were spent as an LSU Law student struggling with his identity.

Vicki Kolakowski is the first openly transgender elected judge in the United States.

"Of course whenever one's the first person to do something you become a role model representative and a role model. The problem with being a role model is on the one hand a role model is great because it can be inspiring to people on the other hand there is a responsibility that goes with that that I take very seriously," said Kolakowski.

Victoria is well educated getting a Masters Degree in Biomedical Engineering from Tulane and Electrical Engineering from UNO before her LSU Law degree. She says she was conflicted as a law student at LSU. She transitioned her last semester of law school.

Kolakowski's professor was asked what it was like teaching Michael one semester and Victoria the next.

"You really don't look at it that way. You're teaching a class and you have an interaction. You're calling on that person or something like that. You're calling on them either they answer the question or they don't. You really don't look at them that way," said LSU Law Professor Eulis Simien.

Victoria married Cynthia Laird in June 2008, the first day that same sex marriages were declared legal in California. Michael was married as a man but later divorced as a female.

Judge-elect Victoria Kolakowski said she has been invited to speak in Baton Rouge to the lesbian and gay law student association known as Out-Law. She plans to return to Baton Rouge to do that after she is sworn-in in California.

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