“What do we want?” transgender activist Mia “Tu Much” Satya yelled as she walked behind Pride’s grand marshal convertible in 2016. “Trans rights!” the crowd yelled back. “When do we want them?” she shouted. “Now!” everyone responded.
Twenty-six-year-old Satya has dedicated her life to LGBTQ and youth rights, with an impressive track record — from creating LGBTQ diversity training for more than 9,000 city employees, to securing free Muni rides for low-income students. She’s been on the San Francisco Youth Commission, and was the director of engagement at Transitional Age Youth San Francisco. Now, she’s the lead employment specialist at the San Francisco LGBT Center.
Through it all, Satya has held the unique and challenging task of bringing the needs of disadvantaged young people to city leaders, holding them accountable for issues ranging from immigration to homelessness.
In other words, Satya is a social-justice powerhouse.
And now she’s taking it a step further. On Nov. 1, she tossed her hat into the ring for a position on the San Francisco Unified School District Board of Education, one of three openings that will be on the ballot in November 2018. Thus far, five candidates have declared an interest.
The decision came just a week before two massive victories for transgender rights, as Danica Roem was elected to the Virginia House of Delegates and Andrea Jenkins won a spot on the Minneapolis City Council. Roem is the second transgender woman to be elected to a state position, and Jenkins is the first African-American transgender person elected to public office in a major U.S. city.
It’s encouraging news for queer activists everywhere, and Satya embraced the moment.
“I totally cried last night and again this morning,” she told the Examiner after the election.
And she will have some other queer competition for the role: Martin Rawlings-Fein, a transgender father of two, is also vying for a spot.
It remains to be seen just how ambitious Satya is in her political career, but the Board of Education is often used as a stepping stone to other positions in City Hall. Sup. Jane Kim was once president of the board. Matt Haney, who’s preparing a run to succeed Kim in 2018, is a commissioner. Sup. Sandra Lee Fewer sat on the board for eight years. Shamann Walton, the current president of the board, is running for supervisor for District 10 in 2018. The list goes on.
And it’s an important race — not just between the five individuals, who have differing approaches on how San Francisco schools should manage policy — but for trans rights citywide. If Satya and Rawlings-Fein play their cards right, San Francisco may just get its first (and second?) openly transgender commissioner on the board of education, ever.