In This Issue
- Executive Director’s Message
- New Hires: Intake Coordinator and Director of Development
- Name Change Project Expands to Pittsburgh, Milwaukee, Albany & Rochester
- TLDEF Helps Transgender Man Achieve Settlement in Discrimination Suit
- Major Victory in Coy Mathis Case
- TLDEF Receives 100K Calamus Foundation Challenge Grant and 25K David Bohnett Foundation Grant
- TLDEF Observes Transgender Day of Remembrance by Reaffirming Commitment to Seek Justice for Lateisha Green
Executive Director’s Message
Happy Thanksgiving and Happy Hanukkah to all those who observe. It’s the first time since 1888 that Thanksgiving and Hanukkah will share the same day. As you set aside time to reflect during this holiday season, we want to thank you for your unwavering support for TLDEF’s vital mission. Your generosity for nearly 9 years has allowed us to grow into a robust, high profile advocacy organization that continues to help transgender people who have experienced discrimination because of their gender identity or expression. Your kindness has made it possible for us to increase our staff, broaden our essential work and add additional resources so that we may communicate more frequently with you about our achievements.
In this latest newsletter, you’ll learn about the exciting expansion of our Name Change Project into more U.S. cities. You’ll also hear the outcome of our case against a New Jersey drug treatment facility that barred a transgender man from working in a male-only job, and a recap in the case of 7-year-old Coy Mathis, who we helped win the right to use the girls’ restroom at her Colorado elementary school. Coy was recently featured in the pages of Rolling Stone. Plus we’ll tell you about generous grants from the Calamus Foundation and the David Bohnett Foundation, and explain how you can be a part of Calamus’ $100,000 matching campaign. In addition we’ll introduce you to our new Intake Coordinator and Director of Development, share a milestone moment we experienced with our law firm partner Sullivan & Cromwell, and highlight our participation in a recent Arcus Foundation National Transgender Advocacy Convening. We’ll also tell you about our testimony before the New York City Council, detailing the immense challenges facing community members in our home city and lending important suggestions about what that legislative body could do to help.
We are so gratified to be expanding and enriching the services that we provide, adding staff and bolstering our communications efforts. With your ongoing support, we look forward to sharing more and more success stories in the years ahead as we continue working to ensure that transgender people are treated equally and with dignity in our society.
We are excited to welcome two new TLDEF staff members! Patricia Harrington has joined the team as our Intake Coordinator and Alexandra Scott has come on board as our new Director of Development. Patti is handling all requests for legal assistance, including name changes, while Alex is working to grow and diversify our donor base.
Patti Harrington is a native New Yorker. After graduating from Queens College with a B.A. in Physics and Mathematics, she had a twenty year career as a programmer and medical physicist at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. She entered Pace Law School in 2006. During the summer of her first year she interned with the Westchester County Law Department assisting child abuse and neglect attorneys in Family Court. At Pace, she was active in the Public Interest Scholarship Organization, Lambda Law Students, and the Women’s Association of Law Students. Prior to entering law school, Patricia spent a year as a volunteer tutor at the Hetrick-Martin Institute. She is committed to eliminating the discriminatory obstacles facing transgender people in daily life. In her spare time she works on her personal animation projects.
Alex Scott served the independent education world as a school head, development expert, teacher, and counselor. A graduate of The Sidwell Friends School, she has a B.A. from Hiram College and two Masters degrees from Duke University. Over the course of her career, she has raised millions of dollars for schools, community service projects and youth programming. In addition to her experience in non-profit management, Alex is a former tournament tennis player and has practiced and taught yoga for many years.
Great news! Our Name Change Project is expanding beyond New York City into several new cities. We’re up and running in Pittsburgh, PA thanks to the tremendous help of our partners at The Bank of New York Mellon and Reed Smith LLP, both of which have major presences in Pittsburgh. We’re also starting to provide services in Milwaukee, WI in conjunction with Foley & Lardner LLP. And with our partner Nixon Peabody LLP, we’ve begun offering services in other parts of New York State including Albany and Rochester. We’re tremendously grateful to our partners for helping us to bring this resource to more community members. If you need help in any of these locations, please contact us. Our capacity is limited as we launch in these locations, but we’ll be doing our best to meet the community’s needs going forward. We’ll also be announcing more expansion locations soon. For the latest updates on our Name Change Project service areas, visit our web site, like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter.
“We’re delighted to expand our Name Change Project into Pittsburgh and beyond,” said TLDEF Executive Director, Michael Silverman. “It will allow more transgender people in more places to live as their true selves. “For many trans people, matching their legal names with who they are makes it far easier for them to live their lives free from discrimination.”
The Name Change Project provides legal assistance for transgender people who are seeking to change their legal names to match their true identities. It can be very expensive, time consuming and daunting to navigate the legal system. TLDEF, with pro bono support from law firms and corporate legal departments, helps transgender people with the process. To date, we’ve helped over 1,300 people with their name changes. Just a few weeks ago, one of our very first pro bono partners, Sullivan & Cromwell LLP, hosted a champagne reception to celebrate having helped over 100 TLDEF Name Change Project clients. “We are truly indebted to our friends at Sullivan & Cromwell and elsewhere for their tireless work in partnership with TLDEF on behalf of transgender people seeking a name change,” said TLDEF Executive Director, Michael Silverman. “We look forward to working with Sullivan & Cromwell on their next 100 cases.”
TLDEF is announcing a settlement on behalf of El’ Jai Devoureau, a transgender man in New Jersey who alleged he was barred from working in a male-only job in a drug treatment facility.
The lawsuit, filed in April 2011, alleged that in June 2010, defendant Camden Treatment Associates, LLC t/a Urban Treatment Associates, Inc. (“Camden Treatment”) hired plaintiff El’ Jai Devoureau as a urine monitor for men. His job responsibilities included monitoring male outpatients as they provided urine samples for drug testing. Mr. Devoureau alleged in the suit that, on his first full day of work, Camden Treatment fired him on the spot after being told that Mr. Devoureau had transitioned from female to male. Camden Treatment specifically denied that Mr. Devoureau was ever employed by Camden Treatment and also denied the allegations of improper discrimination.
Although the terms of the settlement are confidential, Camden Treatment notes that it “fully acknowledges that Mr. Devoureau is male” and that it has aligned its internal compliance policy to include transgender individuals as a protected class. This is in accordance with New Jersey’s employment nondiscrimination law, which has included protections for gender identity and expression since 2007.
Also as part of the settlement, Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP, co-counsel with TLDEF, agreed to waive over a million dollars in fees and costs incurred in litigating the case on behalf of Mr. Devoureau.
“We are pleased that Camden Treatment agreed to resolve this matter and bring closure to Mr. Devoureau without the need for a trial,” said TLDEF Executive Director, Michael Silverman.
“We are glad we could reach an amicable resolution that will allow Mr. Devoureau to move on with his life and allow Camden Treatment to continue its valuable work in the Camden, NJ area,” said Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher partner, Jim Walden.
Jim Walden, Rachel Lavery, Benjamin Wastler, and Amy Mayer of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP and Robyn Gigl of Stein, McGuire, Pantages & Gigl, LLP serve as co-counsel with TLDEF for Mr. Devoureau. We are grateful for their assistance.
Last June the Colorado Civil Rights Division issued its decision granting 6-year old Colorado resident Coy Mathis access to the girls’ restroom at her elementary school. The school had originally denied her permission to use the restroom because she is transgender. The ruling is the most sweeping to date supporting the rights of transgender people to access restrooms without harassment or discrimination. The Colorado Civil Rights Division wrote that Coy’s school had treated her in a manner that was “hostile, intimidating,” and “offensive.” “The ruling sent a loud and clear message that transgender students may not be targeted for discrimination and that they must be treated equally in school,” said TLDEF’s Executive Director, Michael Silverman. “ It was a victory for Coy and a triumph for fairness.”
At the time of the ruling Coy’s mother Kathryn Mathis also weighed in, saying, “Schools should not discriminate against their students, and we are thrilled that Coy can return to school and put this behind her. All we ever wanted was for Coy’s school to treat her the same as other little girls. We are extremely happy that she now will be treated equally.”
Following the ruling, the story was prominently featured in The New York Times, and most recently by Rolling Stone, which just this month published a lengthy feature story on the case. In addition to TLDEF, the legal team representing the Mathis family included Michael Flynn, Lucy Deakins, Jami Mills Vibbert, and Rosario Doriott Dominguez of Norton Rose Fulbright. We are grateful for their assistance.
We have a great new way for your to maximize your giving to TLDEF! The Calamus Foundation has awarded us a $100,000 challenge grant. What this means for new donors is that every dollar you donate will be matched by Calamus up to $100,000. For returning donors, Calamus will match every dollar above your previous donation up to $100,000. This provides a phenomenal opportunity for new and longtime supporters to make more of their gifts through the generosity of Calamus. The grant has already helped us to expand our staff, which will allow us to serve more community members and pursue equal rights. Help us meet the match by making a donation now!
Meanwhile the David Bohnett Foundation awarded TLDEF a $25,000 grant to support our work, including the Name Change Project. It has already allowed us to start expanding the project to new cities like Pittsburgh and Milwaukee!
We’re immensely thankful to both the David Bohnett Foundation and the Calamus Foundation for their support.
TLDEF Observes Transgender Day of Remembrance by Reaffirming Commitment to Seek Justice for Lateisha Green
TLDEF placed an OpEd in the Syracuse Post-Standard on Tuesday, November 19, one day before The Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDOR). The OpEd revisited the 2008 killing of Syracuse resident Lateisha Green and our quest, in partnership with her family and other groups, to achieve justice in her case. Sadly, the man convicted of first degree manslaughter as a hate crime, Dwight DeLee, was released from prison less than five years into his sentence after The New York Supreme Court’s 4th Appellate Division set aside the jury’s verdict on a technicality. Last month, TLDEF and several other LGBT and civil rights organizations including Lambda Legal, the Empire State Pride Agenda, the Anti-Defamation League and the New York City Anti-Violence Project, filed a “friend of the court brief” with the New York Court of Appeals, urging that judicial body to reverse the 4th Appellate Division’s ruling and reinstate Dwight DeLee’s conviction.