Hawaii Elects Nations Highest-Ranking Openly Transgender Official

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A Hawaii woman won a seat on the state Board of Education and, according to national advocacy groups, a place in history as the nation's highest-ranking transgender elected official.

Kim Coco Iwamoto, a 38-year-old attorney, did not tout her gender status in the campaign but has advocated for transgender youth and related issues. She came in third Tuesday in the competition for three seats on the 14-member board, which governs the islands' 285 public schools.

Iwamoto would be the highest-ranking openly transgender person elected in the United States, said Denis Dison, a spokesman for the Victory Fund, a Washington-based group that tracks lesbian, gay and transgender candidates and helps fund their campaigns.

Iwamoto, who was born on the island of Kauai and attended a Catholic boys school in Honolulu, did not immediately respond to requests for an interview.

Previously elected transgender candidates in the United States were primarily limited to local seats such as city alderman or council members, Dison said.

Iwamoto has a law degree from the University of New Mexico. She was featured in a handbook on transgender policy for her advocacy of special restroom facilities on the school's campus after she was harassed for using the women's bathroom.

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