Ilona Turner, Legal Director at Transgender Law Center | Feb 01, 2017 | Comments 0
From state legislation singling out transgender youth for harassment to a new presidential administration that has pledged to target Muslims, immigrants, people of color, women, people with disabilities and so many other members of our communities, we know that 2017 will be a difficult year for transgender people.
Already, in the wake of Trump’s election, requests to Transgender Law Center’s helpline have doubled. People fear they’ll be denied identity documents that reflect who they are, that they or their family will be deported or detained, that they will lose their health care, and even that they will be in danger of violence when they are just going about their day – a reasonable fear given that three transgender people have already been murdered in these first few weeks of 2017. We do not know for sure what is coming, but we know that we need committed attorneys to work with us now more than ever.
To respond to the growing requests for support post-election, Transgender Law Center is working hard to increase our capacity to provide direct services and connect community members with legal resources. We are launching some new initiatives and expanding the programs we already provide.
Here are just a few ways you can help:
- We are restructuring our legal information helpline to increasingly rely on skilled volunteers. We are especially in need of attorneys who can commit a few hours a week to answering questions from community members relating to identity documents, healthcare, discrimination in schools and public accommodations, and more. This is a direct and immediate way to put your legal knowledge and skills to use.
- We are launching a brand new project, TIDE (Trans Immigrant Defense Effort), to connect transgender and gender nonconforming immigrants facing deportation or seeking immigration relief with pro bono attorneys who will be trained by TLC and supervised by experienced mentors. If you are interested in learning more, please visit https://transgenderlawcenter.org/programs/tide to see how you can help us address this critical need.
- We are looking for lawyers who can volunteer at in-person legal clinics or otherwise work with transgender clients one-on-one to help with a range of issues including name and gender changes, updating ID documents, criminal record expungements, complaints regarding police misconduct, and other criminal justice matters.
- We also need volunteers to organize in-person legal clinics—in your community, at your law firm, or in a neighboring underserved area—where community members can meet one-on-one with trained volunteer lawyers or law students.
- We are looking for potential partners on the ground in different states across the country to help fight back against proposed anti-trans legislation or local ordinances that might emerge in your area, including by serving as legal observers at protests.
In general, volunteers who have some degree of prior knowledge or experience with trans communities and issues will be able to contribute most readily, but if you are committed to learning more, we can provide training. A good place to start is to attend a cultural competency training such as the class we recently hosted with PLI, available free online.
Sign up for our Cooperating Attorney Network, and we will follow up with opportunities to help.
We cannot do this work without the support of committed volunteers and pro bono attorneys. We are immensely grateful for the ranks of attorneys who volunteer their time and expertise to help us protect the rights and lives of transgender people.
Ilona Turner joined Transgender Law Center as legal director in January 2012. Before that, she was a staff attorney at the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR), where her work frequently focused on issues affecting transgender clients. She previously practiced law at Cohen, Weiss, & Simon LLP in New York City, representing unions, union-run health and retirement plans, and employees. In the early 2000s she worked as the lobbyist for Equality California, where she helped to shepherd groundbreaking legislation that prohibited housing and employment discrimination against transgender people and dramatically expanded the rights of domestic partners in California.