[lg policy] Candidate tells Chinese supporters she still opposes transgender restroom policy, gives different message in English

Harold Schiffman haroldfs at gmail.com
Sat Sep 8 11:29:38 EDT 2018

 Candidate tells Chinese supporters she still opposes transgender restroom
policy, gives different message in English
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The San Francisco Examiner <https://www.facebook.com/sfexaminer/>

School board candidate Josephine Zhao has come under fire for transphobic
statements made to Chinese language newspapers in 2013. (Courtesy photo)
By Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez <http://www.sfexaminer.com/author/j_rodriguez/>
on September 6, 2018 1:00 am

[image: http://sfexaminer.com/category/the-city/sf-news-columns/on-guard/]

School board candidate Josephine Zhao is managing a neat trick: telling
English-language San Franciscans she supports the transgender community,
and telling the Chinese-language community she does not.

Now, however, On Guard has exclusively obtained text messages where Zhao
openly admits — in written Chinese — to giving the two communities two
different messages.

And, she also admits in those text messages, she does not support
gender-neutral bathrooms.

That’s a tough position for a politician running to lead the San Francisco
Unified School District this November, which has policies in place to
require new buildings include single-stall bathrooms labeled “all gender”
and has a policy in place to encourage multi-stall bathrooms for all

Zhao, a local activist and first-time politician, has become a lightning
rod in the Board of Education race for her comments to the Chinese-language
press in 2013, where she said the transgender bathroom bill would lead to
“rape” in schools.

She has since apologized, profusely, repeatedly, and asked for time to
learn and grow.

But her text-messaged statements to the Chinese community also directly
contradict her apologies in the English-language press, and to prominent
local politicians, some of whom have still maintained their endorsements of
her despite the heat, including state Sen. Scott Wiener and Mayor London

A text message from Board of Education candidate Josephine Zhao to a
400-plus person WeChat group. Courtesy image

In the texts I obtained, sent to a 480-plus person group on the platform
WeChat (which is a favored social media platform in the local Chinese
community), Zhao wrote in Chinese “This time I learned some tactics.”

“Moving forward, should coordinate internally and externally,” she said,
which my translators (I asked a few folks from various professional
backgrounds to help) said had some shades to it. Zhao was apparently saying
she must moderate what she communicates publicly versus privately, among

“I filled out the questionnaire casually in order to deal with external
folks,” she wrote, referring to supporting the transgender bathroom bill.
“My principles remain in my heart.”

“I only apologized for the misunderstanding of their legislation, and am
not supporting gender-neutral bathrooms,” she wrote.

Zhao did not respond to my requests for comment. It should be noted that
Zhao has raised the most cash in this race so far, and with her $78,000
war-chest and big name backers, she’s on the easy road to victory.

This newest revelation also comes after an excellent in-depth report by
Mission Local’s Joe Eskenazi
into Zhao’s history opposing transgender access to bathrooms in 2013, and
his own discovery of text messages wherein Zhao brags of her recent
notoriety over the transgender controversy.

After all the attacks over the transgender issue, she wrote to her WeChat
group, “I am even more well-known.”

(It’s a fair warning to her detractors: She has a point. All this
controversy may actually be raising her name ID. If you want Zhao out of
the race, attacking her could have a “Trump effect,” of actually boosting
her candidacy.)

While Zhao has maintained she was “mistaken” about the transgender bathroom
bill and downplayed her opposition in an editorial she penned for the San
Francisco Examiner, Eskenazi’s deep dive into her history shows quite the
opposite is true: Zhao played a central role in opposing the California
gender-neutral bathroom bill, AB 1266, where she spoke passionately about
it alongside the Pacific Justice Institute, which the Southern Poverty Law
Center describes as an “anti-LGBT hate group.”

Eskenazi’s reporting also revealed Zhao called Supervisor Sandra Lee Fewer
a “race-traitor” and “Chinese trash” on the WeChat platform, which Fewer
told me she found “unprofessional” for someone seeking political office.

“When referring to me as a “race traitor,” it is unfortunate that she would
stoop to using a term created by white supremacists and used by the KKK,”
Fewer told me Wednesday.

Much hay has been made about giving people time and space to change.
Moderate Democrats supporting Zhao have, in private, told me to ease up on
her as a first-time politician and immigrant who may need to adjust to new
ways in a new country. But you know what? Zhao has been here 30 years,
she’s had plenty of time.

And though I only just revealed her latest texts to the Chinese community,
it should be noted that at least one of Breed’s Chinese-language community
staffers is in Zhao’s WeChat.

They can’t play ignorant when they’ve had the opportunity to see this all


 Harold F. Schiffman

Professor Emeritus of
 Dravidian Linguistics and Culture
Dept. of South Asia Studies
University of Pennsylvania
Philadelphia, PA 19104-6305

Phone:  (215) 898-7475
Fax:  (215) 573-2138

Email:  haroldfs at gmail.com

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