South Bay congressional incumbent, candidate sound off on transgender rights

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Another closely watched race is underway to represent much of Silicon Valley in congress. It's a rematch from two years ago for the Democrats. Both sounded off Thursday on the issue of transgender rights. (KGO-TV )

Another closely watched race is underway to represent much of Silicon Valley in congress. It's a rematch from two years ago for the Democrats. Both sounded off Thursday on the issue of transgender rights.

Just over a year ago, Congressman Mike Honda revealed his then-eight year old granddaughter Malisa, is transgender. It helped to advance a national dialogue and now it's part of the race to represent Silicon Valley in congress.

Incumbent Honda has been in congress 16 years, and when he ran against Democratic challenger Ro Khanna two years ago, his campaign emphasized his seniority and experience. Khanna, as a next-generation leader who knows technology.

In June's rematch, the two find themselves taking strong stands on transgender rights in light of laws passed in North Carolina and Mississippi criticized as discriminatory against the LGBTQ community. Honda applauds Paypal and other companies for objecting.

"I think that there's going to be a greater impact on the policy part and the politics part when corporate America and the commercial aspect of this country and then general public opinion plays its role," Honda said.

Honda held a public hearing today on treatment of transgender students. Khanna believes the diversity of the 17th district supports inclusion.

"I'm sure there's different points of view, but this is something I don't believe in compromise," Khanna said. "I think that we have to stand up very strongly for equal rights, for protecting LGBT rights, for making sure that people can sue under state law."

However, voters we surveyed seem to see other issues influencing which candidate they prefer.

"I think Honda's time is done, and I think he's too old," said Vikki Jewell.

"Education is number one. It's the only way our district moves forward, and I believe Mike Honda has that in his soul, his very being. He's going to be looking out for kids," said Ann Crosbie.

The campaigns are gearing up with the June 7 primary ahead.
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