Henry Sias is in the running to become a judge in Philadelphia, an election that could see him become the first trans male judge in the US.
The Yale Law School graduate has been working as a criminal defence and civil rights lawyer in Philadelphia, where he also serves as a Commissioner on Pennsylvania’s Commission on LGBTQ Affairs.
The 42-year-old lawyer wants to continue serving the community as a judge in the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas.
“Men like me, transgender men, are not supposed to be visible. We have never won an election for state or federal office, let alone judge.”
— Henry Sias
Sias previously launched an unsuccessful bid for the bench in 2017, but he has not lost his hope to make history.
“I’m running for judge because I know what it’s like to be marginalised and disenfranchised,” Sias said in his campaign video introducing himself to potential voters.
“Growing up, I had no hope that someone like me would be treated fairly. But men like me, transgender men, are not supposed to be visible. We have never won an election for state or federal office, let alone judge,” Sias added.
So far in the US, there have been two transgender women to have served on a bench—Houston Municipal Court Judge Phyllis Frye, the first openly transgender judge to be appointed in the US, and Alameda County Superior Court Judge Victoria Kolakowski, the first openly transgender judge to be elected to the bench.
Henry Sias says transitioning allowed him to become his “true self”
In his campaign video, Sias described his transition as the moment he “became [his] true self.”
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He said: “Until I was 35 I lived as a woman. I grew up poor, raised by a single mum in low-income housing. I worked hard and went to Yale Law School.
“I tried to be whatever everyone wanted me to be. But I knew, if I wanted to live with integrity, I had to live as who I really am.
“I changed my name to Henry, I became my true self.”
Sias, who has been married to his wife Carey since 2013, said he has dedicated his career “to making sure the justice system works for everyone.”
Today I’m sharing my story and why I’m running for Judge in Philadelphia. This is the start of our movement, please share this with your friends. pic.twitter.com/OEa1SUnlJl
— Henry Sias (@henrysias4judge) 7 February 2019
The primary vote in the election is held on May 21, before the general election on November 5.
As profiled in Philadelphia Gay News, two other candidates for vying for one of the six positions currently available are members of the LGBT+ community—openly lesbian attorney Tiffany Palmer, who is a champion of LGBT+ families, and openly gay attorney Wade Albert.