Leadership

Transgender Law Gets Its First Treatise

By Rob Stott / Sep 16, 2013 (American Bar Association)

The first-of-its-kind guide from the American Bar Association offers a roadmap for navigating the legal issues that touch many aspects of life as a transgender person.

Among the complexities of gender transition, legal issues abound. And now transgender people and their attorneys have a landmark guide to the shifting terrain of transgender rights.

The American Bar Association’s new 313-page treatise, Transgender Persons and the Law, is intended to educate both transgender persons and the legal practitioners who represent them. Written by transgender lawyer Ally Windsor Howell, the book addresses laws and court cases in a variety of areas, including housing, military service and veterans benefits, family law, healthcare, education, employment, immigration, and criminal justice. Howell also details the legal documents transgender people should understand in order to change names, birth certificates, and gender identification—a DVD is included with a complete set of these forms for all 50 states and Washington, DC.

Transgender Persons and the Law is likely to become the definitive treatise for legal issues that have specific application to transgender persons throughout the United States,” said Robert J. O’Toole, cochair of the New York State Bar Association’s Transgender Subcommittee, in a review of the book. “I commend this book to any lawyer who might be representing transgender clients, or anyone who is interested in learning more about the special legal challenges faced by transgender people.”

Howell also addresses the medical community regarding properly identifying transgenderism and includes a glossary of terms commonly used in the transgender community.

Phyllis Randolph Frye, the first openly transgender judge in the U.S., called the text comprehensive and noted the progress that has been made and the work yet to be done for full recognition of transgender (TG) people.

“All lawyers and lay activists dealing with this area of the law either in the courts or in legislative lobbying should read it,” she writes in the book’s forward. “As I read, I felt gratified at how far TG legal gains have come, as expressed in this book, since 1992 when I created the first international TG legal conference in Houston. Obviously, there is much more work to be done in the area of TG legal gains.”

The book comes less than a month after LGBT groups stepped up to advise media outlets on how to cover the announcement by Pfc. Chelsea Manning that she had changed her name from Bradley Manning and wished to receive gender transition therapy in prison. Manning was convicted last month on charges related to transmitting classified information to WikiLeaks.

Has your association offered guidance on an issue in your profession or industry that was previously untouched? Share your story in the comments.

Rob Stott

Rob Stott is an assistant editor at Associations Now. More »

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