Sparks is flying: … thanks to her appointment.

Surrounded by well-wishers at a brief swearing-in ceremony yesterday, Theresa Sparks basked in the attention that came with being another of San Francisco’s “firsts.”

Holding two colorful bouquets and wearing a gardenia on the lapel of her black suit, Sparks — the city’s first transgender appointee to the powerful Human Rights Commission — said she hoped to bring the perspective of a member of an oft-maligned minority group to the panel and be a role model. …

“Even in San Francisco, transgender people are still stereotyped,” she said.

“Transgenders are fine as long as they’re street theater. As soon as we move into the apartment next door or use the bathroom, then we become a problem.” …

The 11-member San Francisco Human Rights Commission investigates and mediates discrimination complaints, monitors city contracts for compliance with city nondiscrimination policies and certifies minority- and women-owned businesses in city contracting.

“We’ve tried to reach out to the transgender community so that our city commissions reflect the diversity of San Francisco,” Brown said. “Theresa helps . . . brings representation that we didn’t have.”

There are an estimated 15,000 to 18,000 transgender men and women living in San Francisco.

To explain the significance of Sparks’ appointment, supporter Jo Ellen Fisher, who is also transgender, rattled off the grim statistics that weigh on her mind every day: Transgender men and women are 16 times more likely to be murdered than the average person in the United States; they face a 70 percent unemployment rate, compared with 4 percent in the general population. And they often have difficulty getting medical care and housing, not to mention the daily sneers and jeers.

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