Kim Coco Iwamoto — 2019 Honolulu Pride Grand Marshal.
Kim Coco Iwamoto, a long-time advocate who’s made outstanding contributions to our community, was the 2019 Honolulu Pride Grand Marshal. Kim Coco was also the recipient of the Hawaii LGBT Legacy Foundation’s 2019 Visionary Award.
Kim Coco was born on Kauai and raised on Oahu. In1993, she was working in New York City’s fashion industry when she was terminated by her employer for being trans – there were no LGBT civil rights laws at that time. Soon after, Kim Coco became an early member of Transexual Menace, which mobilized street protests when trans people were murdered or left to die – they brought attention to the fact that trans lives mattered.
Kim Coco went to law school to make sure the law protected the diversity of employees in the workforce. After passing the bar in 2001, she started her career at Volunteer Legal Services of Hawaii, coordinating free legal clinics across the state. Kim Coco also worked with local activists to expand her state’s civil rights laws to prohibit discrimination on the bases of sexual orientation and gender identity. She became a state-licensed foster parent to gay and trans teenagers and was angered by the bullying and harassment they were encountering at school.
In 2006, she ran for a seat on the Hawaii State Board of Education, because she knew that if we did not have a seat at the table, our kids would continue to be thrown under the bus. Her election made her the “highest ranking, openly-transgender elected official in the U.S.” according to the Victory Fund. Kim Coco was re-elected in 2010 with 25% more votes. In 2012, the Governor appointed her to the Hawaii Civil Rights Commission.
In 2013, Kim Coco was honored by the Obama White House as a “Harvey Milk Champion of Change” for her advocacy against bullying in schools. Four years ago, Kim Coco adopted her daughter Rory who is turning seven years old this year.