Bay Area Congressman Mike Honda tweets photo with transgender grandchild

SANTA CLARA COUNTY, Calif. (KTVU) - Bay Area Congressman Mike Honda said he wasn't trying to make a political statement but he was hoping a tweet would get people talking and thinking.

The tweet is of him and his 8-year-old transgender grandchild. He wrote, "As the proud grandpa of a transgender grandchild, I hope she can feel safe at school without fear of being bullied."

Honda called the response a bit overwhelming. He said his tweet was a way to create a greater dialogue and openness on a topic that hasn't always been politically correct.

"People say she was born a boy," said Honda. "The gender was put on her by the doctors. She identified herself when she was she was able to speak as a girl."

His tweet comes when some say violence against those questioning their identity is getting worse. Earlier, this month, Taja Dejesus was stabbed to death in San Francisco, sparking a day of action.

"There's been a lot of tragedy and murders and discrimination," said Gabrielle Antolovich of the Billy DeFrank LGBT Community Center. "This is a different angle where you have a grandparent who is a prominent political figure who is supportive so it's the other end of the discussion,"

Nori Herras said she knew she was a transgender woman at an early age and it divided her family. She said the congressman's "coming out" lets her and others in the gay and transgender community have hope they no longer have to live in the shadows.

"Many of us perceive our transition as a very dark tunnel with little light at the end of it, what this does is makes that light a little brighter," said Herras.

Honda is the founder and chairman of the Congressional Anti-Bullying Caucus.