Mayor Breed Appoints Honey Mahogany as New Director for the Office of Transgender Initiatives

Mahogany brings over 20 years of experience in government, nonprofit sector, social justice community engagement, as well as a unique perspective as LGBTQ+ artist and small business owner
May 02, 2024

San Francisco, CA — Mayor London N. Breed today announced the appointment of Honey Mahogany as the new Director of the Office of Transgender Initiatives (OTI). Her appointment is effective on May 6. 

Born and raised in San Francisco, Mahogany has advocated for justice and equity for the LGBTQ+ community for more than two decades, many as a community activist. As a social worker, she has championed initiatives to address the needs of people living with HIV, people of color, youth, and the unhoused.  

As part of her work in benefit of the trans community, she served trans and gender nonconforming youth as an outreach worker in residential settings and organized trans community members in the creation of the San Francisco’s Transgender District. She also co-organized the Drag Up!, Fight Back! march, and mentored and appointed trans leaders during her time as Chair of the San Francisco Democratic Party. 

Mahogany is also a founding queen of Drag Story Hour and, recently, played a critical role in saving The Stud, an iconic gay bar in San Francisco, of which she is a co-owner, co-founder of the Stud Collective, and an active member of its board.  

Mahogany’s experience in government and the nonprofit sector includes serving as Community Mental Health Director at Contra Costa County’s Rainbow Community Center and her work as outreach and residential counselor for Larkin Street Youth Services. More recently, she worked for State Assemblymember Matt Haney as District Director and as Chief of Staff when he was a San Francisco Supervisor. 

"Right now, across the country, our Transgender and LGBTQ+ culture and community is under attack, but in San Francisco we continue to embrace and celebrate the amazing individuals and organizations who through their advocacy and art have contributed to our history around social justice and equity,” said Mayor Breed. “Honey Mahogany is a proven champion and in her new role will work to advance San Francisco’s values of inclusion that will inspire communities everywhere and future generations. I look forward to partnering with Honey to ensure our City continues to be a place of acceptance, fairness, and opportunities for all.”    

"It's an honor to be appointed Director of the Office of Transgender Initiatives,” said Honey Mahogany. “I am grateful to Mayor Breed for the opportunity to take on this role in this first of its kind office, and to fight for my community at this pivotal time in our nation's history. After two decades of community-based work and legislative experience, I look forward to leveraging all I have learned over the years in service of this office and the entire transgender, gender non-conforming, intersex, and 2-spirit (TGNCI2S) community. I’m especially excited to be leading an extraordinary team of trans staff at the Office of Transgender Initiatives (OTI), and to work alongside longtime community leaders to continue our fight for equity and to ensure that San Francisco continues to be a sanctuary city for the trans community." 

Established in 2017, OTI advocates for and uplifts the voices and needs of trans and gender nonconforming San Franciscans by acting as a bridge between communities and local government in the pursuit of equity. The Office has been housed in the City Administrator's Office since its founding but will transition to the Human Rights Commission (HRC) this summer.  

The HRC addresses the causes of and problems resulting from prejudice, intolerance, bigotry, and discrimination, as set forth by the City charter. OTI’s transition to a division of the HRC reflects an alignment in staffing and mission, providing space for additional grant funding opportunities and partnerships crucial for the office’s growth, which will sustain ongoing projects like comprehensive staff training, ongoing work with the office’s Transgender Advisory Committee, and other critical initiatives. 

“It has been an honor to work with the Office of Transgender Initiatives during my time as City Administrator. The office has been a trailblazer in the creation and implementation of transgender inclusion training for our workforce and over the last three years. I’ve been so proud of the work the OTI team has done to collaborate with trans and gender-diverse communities and advocate for pioneering initiatives that benefit trans San Franciscans,” said City Administrator Carmen Chu. “By bringing two closely aligned agencies together, we are furthering the City's ability to leverage policy and resources to advance equity for transgender and gender nonconforming San Franciscans. I am grateful for the OTI staff, Shane Zaldivar, Cherry Javier, and Asri Wulandari, who have been integral in ensuring a smooth transition, and look forward to working with Director Mahogany to continue fostering economic stability and create equal opportunities for our TGNC community.” 

"We at the San Francisco Human Rights Commission eagerly anticipate welcoming the Office of Transgender Initiative’s new Director, Honey Mahogany, alongside the OTI’s dedicated staff and their impactful portfolio of work," said Sheryl Evans Davis, Executive Director of the Human Rights Commission. "It will be a great opportunity to align further on so much that we already share, including grant funding specific to transgender initiatives managed through the HRC. I am confident that this new transition in leadership and department will foster new engagement with the OTI team and community through our shared mission and goals. Many thanks to all who have worked so hard to make this transition period as seamless as possible, including our colleagues in the Office of the City Administrator." 

Over the years, the art of drag has provided Mahogany with a platform to uplift and fight for gender-variant, gender nonconforming, trans people, and cisgender women as well as to promote San Francisco to the world. As a drag performer, she made history as the first person from the San Francisco Bay Area to compete on the reality television series RuPaul’s Drag Race, winner of multiple Emmy awards.  

"Honey is a phenomenal choice to lead San Francisco’s Office of Transgender Initiatives — from competing on RuPaul's Drag Race to co-leading efforts to establish the first legally recognized transgender cultural district in the world — Honey has the experience and vision to lead OTI at a critical time,” said Supervisor Rafael Mandelman who partners with Mayor Breed and OTI on many initiatives including legislation to collect more sexual orientation and gender identity data. “I am beyond excited to be able to work with her in this role. With trans rights under attack across the country, Director Mahogany will ensure San Francisco remains at the forefront of efforts to protect and support our trans community, in San Francisco and beyond." 

“In the realm of LGBTQ+ leadership, Honey shines as an accomplished, visionary trailblazer, deeply cherished by the community,” said Gael Lala-Chavez, Executive Director of LYRIC. “Her relentless advocacy for Trans Rights is a testament to her unwavering courage. Amidst turbulent times, Honey emerges as a steadfast champion. When it comes to steering OTI and uplifting the rights, services, and impact for trans individuals in San Francisco, Honey's leadership is unparalleled.” 

"Honey Mahogany is an exceptionally talented and brilliant force of nature,” said Jupiter Peraza, transgender advocate and Statewide Coalition Manager at Openhouse. “She possesses the skill, poise, and forethought required to lead OTI amidst unprecedented times for the transgender community across the country and in San Francisco. I celebrate Mayor Breed’s appointment of such a stellar transgender leader to OTI’s Director role–someone whose groundbreaking professional accomplishments precede her. Additionally, OTI’s restructuring into San Francisco’s Human Rights Commission will be instrumental in the Office's growth. I am looking forward to seeing the Office soar in this new chapter and continue to collaborate with transgender San Franciscans in advocating for equity." 

Honey Mahogany earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Southern California and Master of Social Work from the University of California, Berkeley. For her advocacy work, she has received commendations from the City and County of San Francisco and the State of California and has earned awards from many organizations and movements, including Bay Area Lawyers for Individual Freedom, GLIDE, Harvey Milk Democratic Club, San Francisco PRIDE, the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, and Women's Foundation of California.