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Lambda Legal Of Counsel: Insight for the Legal Community

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Jon Davidson.

Opening Statement
by Jon W. Davidson
Legal Director

Lambda Legal's work on behalf of transgender people spans the areas we identify as priorities for our civil rights advocacy, including families, the workplace, youth, HIV and health care. We have battled efforts to treat transgender individuals' marriages as invalid and fought on behalf of transgender parents whose transition has been used against them in custody decisions.

Our current suit against Georgia's Legislative Counsel for firing Vandy Beth Glenn after she told him of her impending gender transition is but one of many we have taken on for transgender workers.

Our transgender youth work includes our current suit defending the equal protection and free expression rights of K.K. Logan, an Indiana student blocked from the prom for wearing a gown appropriate to K.K.’s gender identity. We also recently filed a complaint against a Philadelphia youth detention facility (see "Intersection of Policy & Law") on behalf of a transgender girl who suffered daily abuse from other residents and staff for more than a year.

We have advocated for access to necessary surgery on behalf of transgender patients with HIV. In addition, we await a verdict after our trial contesting the constitutionality of a Wisconsin statute barring necessary medical care for transgender individuals in prison.

We further have worked on concerns unique to transgender people, like the ability to obtain name changes and correct identity documents and to be treated appropriately in sex-segregated facilities.

Transgender people historically have been outsiders to the law in America invisible, unprotected, and even subject to arrest. Lambda Legal is proud to be helping "trans-form" the law to respect transgender individuals and provide them the justice each of us deserves.

Legal Landscape

Highlighted Cases from this Issue

Legal Landscape map.

Glenn v. Brumby (Georgia)

L.P. v. City of Philadelphia (Pennsylvania)

K.K. Logan v. Gary Community Schools (Indiana)

Sundstrom v. Frank (Wisconsin)

Rodriguez v. Johnson (New York)

In re Winn-Ritzenberg (New York)



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Vol 6, No 1

M. Dru Levasseur.

Why Include the T?
Lambda Legal's Transgender Rights Attorney, M. Dru Levasseur, weighs in on why it's crucial to include transgender people in the fight for LGBT rights.

"How many transgender people are there?" I'm often asked this question by people inside and outside of the LGBT community, and by reporters, scholars, students and attorneys. They want to know how many people we are talking about when we refer to the letter "T" in the LGBT. Sometimes, the underlying sentiment is, "Why are we focusing on such a small population of people who seem to have such different issues than us?"

While some estimates have been made about how many transgender people are in the U.S., there is no definitive answer. The U.S. Census has yet to include more than two options for gender on its survey. Until it does, my answer to that question depends on the definition of "transgender." According to the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) Media Reference Guide, the term "transgender" is defined in part as "an umbrella term for people whose gender identity and/or expression differs from the sex they were assigned at birth." Gender identity is one's internal sense of gender. Gender expression is the external manifestation of one's gender identity. According to this definition, transgender people may include transsexuals, cross-dressers, and gender-variant people, including effeminate men, masculine women, and anyone else whose gender expression does not fit the stereotypical norm. There may be more of us than you might think.

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Intersection of Policy & Law

School desks.

by Flor Bermudez
Youth in Out-of-Home Care Attorney

Despite growing acceptance of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or questioning (LGBTQ) people, LGBTQ youth commonly still face rejection and hostility from their families, peers, schools and other institutions. It is estimated that approximately 26 percent of gay male youth were forced to leave their families of origin as a result of conflicts with their parents regarding their sexual orientation. LGBTQ youth also face discrimination in schools, where all too often they are subjected to verbal and physical harassment at the hands of their peers and staff. These factors leave LGBTQ young people at very high risk of physical violence, substance abuse, unsafe sex and even suicide. These risk factors can also contribute to LGBTQ youth being in the custody of juvenile justice and delinquency systems in disproportionate numbers.

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Pro Bono Honors

Statue holding laural wreath.

Lambda Legal applauds Miriam Edelstein of Reed Smith for her hard work on the L.P. v. City of Philadelphia matter in which a transgender girl was subjected to severe verbal and physical abuse while in the custody of the Youth Study Center, a secure juvenile detention facility in Philadelphia. Edelstein continues to be an enormous asset as the case moves forward in its early stages.


Lambda Legal News

U.S. Court of Appeals Rules in Favor of Lambda Legal Clients Seeking Birth Certificate for Adopted Child
Read more

New York High Court Hears Argument in Lambda Legal Case to Protect Parent-Child Relationship Between Child and Non-Biological Mother
Read more

Lambda Legal Files Brief in Defense of Cleveland Domestic Partner Registry
Read more

Cooperating Attorney Network

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Join Lambda Legal's Cooperating Attorney Network and help protect the rights of LGBT people and people with HIV. From providing advice and assistance to people who call Lambda Legal's Help Desks to playing a role in cutting-edge impact litigation, Lambda Legal's Cooperating Attorneys are indispensable members of our team.


Lambda Legal's Docket

scales of justice.

Explore our listing of both open and closed cases, along with pleadings, briefs and press releases. Lambda Legal's docket includes cases from each of our program areas such as family law, HIV discrimination, youth and schools, relationship recognition and employment discrimination.


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Make a donation and support Lambda Legal's groundbreaking impact litigation, public education and advocacy work.

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