California Democratic Congressmember Mike Honda has been a longtime progressive civil rights advocate. Last year, Honda tweeted a photo of him and his granddaughter Malisa, saying, “As a proud grandpa of a transgender grandchild, I hope she can feel safe at school without fear of being bullied.” We talk to Honda about his granddaughter and efforts to protect LGBTQ rights.
AMY GOODMAN: On another topic, Congressman Honda, last year you tweeted a photo of you and your daughter Malisa, saying, “As the proud grandpa of a transgender grandchild”—
REP. MIKE HONDA: Yes.
AMY GOODMAN: —”I hope she can feel safe at school without fear of being bullied.” Can you talk about your grandchild? How old is she now?
REP. MIKE HONDA: She’s 10 now. And—
AMY GOODMAN: Ten years old.
REP. MIKE HONDA: Ten years old. When she was about 18 months, she declared to the family that “I’m a girl.” And when she was just about three years old, she said, “I’m a girl. My name is Malisa, and this is how you spell it.” So, she exhibited a persistence, insistence and consistency that told us that this is something that we have to join her journey and make sure that her journey is safe and secure. And this is the kind of security and safety that I was thinking about when we talked about providing the children of Syria and orphans of Syria that kind of protection. It’s no different.
AMY GOODMAN: Can you talk about legislative efforts to protect LGBTQ people? The Advocate is reporting the number of murders of transgender people in 2016 is officially the highest on record. At least 26 transgender people have been murdered so far this year. Can you talk about your efforts?
REP. MIKE HONDA: Well, my effort is one that’s joined by many other people who begin to understand that transgender is yet another group of folks that need to be protected and to be embraced. It took a long time for people just to be comfortable with the idea that the LGBs need to be protected and embraced and to understand them. And this is no different. And it’s a massive instructional process, where we have to start rethinking and reteaching ourselves the issue of gender, gender identity, and move away from what we call the binary understanding of gender, the males and females, but there’s a great spectrum between the two. And this is the effort that we’re trying to do to make sure that people understand that every child is different, every person is different, and they’re a gift of God.
AMY GOODMAN: And in 10 seconds, have you taken a position on the DNC race? Are you supporting Keith Ellison or Tom Perez, is apparently announcing today?
REP. MIKE HONDA: I endorsed Keith Ellison when he said that he wanted to run for DNC. I was a past DNC vice chair, and I think that Keith Ellison will lend a great energy and direction and thinking, so that we can go back and recapture the White House.
AMY GOODMAN: Well, Democratic Congressmember Mike Honda of California, we thank you so much for being with us.
REP. MIKE HONDA: Thank you.
AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now! When we come back, we go to a New York Times investigation. Who gets jailed? Who remains free? And what does money have to do with it? Stay with us.
AMY GOODMAN: “Kenji” by Mike Shinoda. Shinoda’s father was interned at Manzanar, a Japanese internment camp in California. This is Democracy Now!, democracynow.org, The War and Peace Report. I’m Amy Goodman, with Nermeen Shaikh.