San Francisco has elected what may be the nation’s first transgender president of a police oversight board. Teresa Sparks, 58, was elected president of the San Francisco Police Commission last week, beating out Mayor Gavin Newsom’s pick for the job and prompting a prominent member of the board to resign abruptly, reports the San Francisco Chronicle. After running waste management companies as a man, Sparks now is the female chief executive officer of a multimillion-dollar sex-toy company.
The police commission oversees department operating rules and sets crucial policies. San Francisco may have the largest population of transgender people in the country — estimates hover around 19,000. The term “transgender” covers a range of individuals, from men and women who have undergone surgery to change their gender to cross-dressers and the intersexed. Sparks’ election comes at a critical time for the department and the commission, which are tackling major policy and organizational issues, including the installation of a tracking system to identify problem officers more quickly.