In January, Transgender Law Center announced our 2017 Plan of Resistance — a radical restructuring to harness community power to meet community needs under the new administration. We’ve been busy these past few months, and we’re excited to introduce the new members of our team who are putting that plan into action.
After the election, we received a 45% increase in requests to our legal information helpline — along with an outpouring of folks wanting to volunteer to support our work. We’ve launched a Legal Services Project, staffed by Ian Anderson and Jade Mora Gutierrez, to manage our two new volunteer programs: our Legal Resistance Network for attorneys interested in providing pro bono support, and our Community Resistance Network for members of the community who want to contribute to the work of our helpline and Detention Project.
To push back against the White House’s vicious, concentrated attacks on immigrants, we launched our Trans Immigrant Defense Effort (TIDE), staffed by Lorraine Torres Colon and Eden Jequinto, to train pro bono attorneys and connect them to trans immigrants in need of legal support.
While we were sad this month to see long-time TLC Staff Attorney and Policy Counsel Sasha Buchert go — and we wish her well at Lambda Legal! — we are excited to welcome Corinne Green in a new position of Policy Coordinator. In this role, Corinne will expand the support, technical assistance, and expertise we can provide to state-based leaders facing anti-trans legislation.
Finally, we hired Maria Carmen Hinayon and Michelle Garcia to support our continued commitment to groundbreaking legal work and impact litigation, like our recent historic victory on behalf of trans student Ash Whitaker in Wisconsin.
We know we can’t keep people alive today and achieve a vision for long-term liberation through legal work alone. We must complement courtroom wins with a broad, robust, trans-led movement that is ready to organize to protect each other against immediate attacks and fight for a country where we can all safely live as our authentic selves. To that end, we hired Shelby Chestnut to join our team of community organizers — Elliott Fukui, Raquel Willis, Ola Osaze, and Micky Bradford — as we expand our national movement-building programming. This year, we have already held five training institutes, including one in Spanish, for transgender and gender nonconforming leaders looking to build their organizing, advocacy, and storytelling skills. We are now kicking off our summer TLC@SONG tour of the South, the Jewel Box Revue.
We have also expanded the team behind Positively Trans, our first-of-its-kind research, advocacy, and leadership development program led by transgender and gender nonconforming people living with HIV. Sophia Kass joins Cecilia Chung and Beatrix McBride in a new suite of work for this program, including a new national training series for transgender women of color living with HIV.
Development and Operations:
We can’t do any of this work without the critical support provided by our development and operations teams. These are the folks who keep everything going and set the stage for our legal and programmatic success. We are thrilled to welcome Wazi Maret, who joins Ace Portis and Jack Dunn in our Development Department, and Nomi Gomes, who joins Rachel Kahn and Maceo Persson in our Finance and Operations Department.
Read the bios of our fantastic new staff members below, and help us welcome them as we march on with our Plan of Resistance!
Legal Services Project Coordinator
Ian Anderson is the Legal Services Project Manager at Transgender Law Center. Prior to working in this role, he helped TLC streamline a volunteer prison mail response program, restructure the Legal Information Helpline, and develop a number of resource guides to changing identity documents as a Legal Assistant. He is thrilled and honored to be able to connect other trans folks, especially multiply marginalized people, to critical services and information. He believes that legal reform is only as valuable as it is accessible to the whole community, and in never losing sight of the ultimate goal, our collective liberation.
Ian has called the Bay Area home for seven years; he is originally from Seattle, by way of New York and Toronto. He taught literature before joining TLC and still co-facilitates a queer theory book group. He also enjoys board games, biking around Oakland, and creating increasingly flamboyant donuts and pies.
National Organizing and Policy Strategist
Shelby Chestnut served as the Director of Community Organizing and Public Advocacy at the New York City Anti-Violence Project (AVP) for five years prior to joining Transgender Law Center. At AVP, Shelby worked on a city, state and national level advancing the rights and protections of LGBTQ survivors of violence. For over a decade, Shelby has been organizing with LGBTQ people, people of color, and low income communities to address violence, promote access to resources, and affect local policy change that is for and by the people most impacted by oppression. Shelby is a gender non-conforming, two spirit, mixed race organizer who has called Brooklyn their home for the past 7 years, but always draws of their Montana roots for country sensibility and dry sense of humor.
Michelle is a bay area raised Queer Mexipina whose roots in prison abolition work led them to Portland, Oregon to broaden their studies in political science while organizing QTPOC students access to higher education and also helping to form the Portland chapter of Critical Resistance. Through their time at the Associated Students of Portland Community College Student Government, volunteering with No More Deaths•No Mas Muertes Desert Aid Program, and as a member of Decolonize PDX they’ve sharpened their skills in community organizing and direct humanitarian aid. Having now returned to the bay area to be closer to their family and expand their education in legal studies through the paralegal program at SF City College, they are eager to join the Transgender Law Center as the new Legal Assistant.
Nomi is a proud first generation Cape Verdean American. Her activism was seasoned during the third wave of feminism and the AIDS epidemic. She began working in human services in the early 1990s with LGBT communities of color providing advocacy and counseling in the areas of HIV, mental health, and substance use. Later, she worked in local government in public policy on housing and labor rights. She has a BA in Social Sciences and Journalism and spent two years studying Third World literature at the graduate level at San Francisco State University.
Corinne Green came to Transgender Law Center in 2017 from New Orleans, Louisiana. As President of Louisiana Trans Advocates and Research and Policy Coordinator for Equality Louisiana, she defeated anti-LGBTQ legislation and secured the Deep South’s first statewide protections for trans people in an executive order signed by Gov. Edwards. In the areas of juvenile justice and harm reduction, she helped to raise the age of criminal jurisdiction in the state from 17 and 18, expanded access to the overdose reversal drug naloxone, and later worked on drug policy for the Edwards administration.
She has bachelor’s degrees in French and International Studies from Louisiana State University.
Maria Carmen Hinayon
Maria Carmen joins Transgender Law Center. Prior to joining TLC, Maria Carmen worked as a LGBTQ rights, education equity, and First Amendment fellow with the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Southern California. Her prior legal experience also include labor and employment, immigration, and general civil rights practice.
An activist-organizer by heart, Maria Carmen also brings over 16 years of experience in grassroots advocacy, which started when she first transitioned while a student at the University of the Philippines where she blazed trails as the first openly trans student leader to be elected at the University Council in 2001 and as national chairperson of the Student Councils Alliance of the Philippines in 2002. She advocated for LGBTQ inclusion and protection within the education system and the passing of the LGBT anti-discrimination bill. When she immigrated to the United States, Maria Carmen became deeply involved with transgender advocacy within the public health system starting as a volunteer with Asian and Pacific Islander Wellness Center in San Francisco and later working as an educator and policy advocate with Asian Pacific AIDS Intervention Team in Los Angeles. She served at various community and governmental boards and organizations including the West Hollywood Transgender Advisory Board, the Imperial Court of LA & Hollywood, and the Center of Excellence for Transgender Health.
eden silva jequinto learned the power of education, organizing, and cultural work from her/their/zir migrant Pilipinx family and the predominantly Third World communities that raised her/them/zir. eden graduated from UC, Santa Cruz with a BA in American Studies in 2004 and moved to Oakland, CA where she/they/ze worked as a core member of EastSide Arts Alliance (ESAA). At ESAA, eden founded the Guerilla Youth Theatre Project and the Leadership Program, training youth into lead teachers. eden worked with intergenerational Third World grassroots groups and nonprofits, supporting campaigns through guerrilla theatre, healing work, and systemic analyses, before returning to Los Angeles in 2011.
After earning her/their/zir MA in Urban Planning at UCLA in 2013, eden graduated from UCLA School of Law in 2016 as a student in both the Critical Race Studies program and the Epstein Public Interest Law and Policy program. In Los Angeles, eden organized with grassroots movements centering the leadership of indigenous, black, queer, trans, house-less, youth, migrant folx sin papeles y sin miedo (no papers, no fear) against state surveillance/violence/settlements and for community self-determination. Since graduating from law school, eden worked at the Eviction Defense Center in Oakland defending tenants facing eviction throughout Alameda County. eden looks forward to meeting the urgent need for legal services for transgender and gender nonconforming migrants through TLC’s Trans Immigrant Defense Effort (TIDE).
Positively Trans Program Associate
Sophia Kass is a transgender woman of color who comes from Lebanon, in the Middle East. She settled in the Bay Area towards the end of 2015, first as a student and later on as an asylum seeker. As part of her UC Berkeley studies in Project Management, she interned at the SF LGBT Center where she spearheaded a project that aims at better connecting the Center’s trans and gender nonconforming clients to health and ancillary care in San Francisco and Bay Area, particularly folks living with or at risk of HIV. Sophia also has a background in Sales and Marketing in which she worked for 5 years prior to her move to the United States.
As a trauma and violence survivor herself, Sophia joined the Transgender Law Center’s team because she believes in initiatives such as Positively Trans to empower trans and GNC individuals to challenge and change injustices and a status-quo full of inequities, stigma, and discrimination. She hopes that one day she will be able to replicate these approaches and experiences in Lebanon, where the transgender community is still under a lot of pain and suffering.
Wazi Maret is an award-winning, radical development strategist, educator and organizer. As a member of the development team at Transgender Law Center (TLC), the largest national trans-led organization in the U.S., Wazi works with the development director in sustaining TLC’s work to change laws, policies, and attitudes so that all people can live safely, authentically, and free from discrimination regardless of their gender identity or expression.
Before joining TLC, Wazi served as the interim development director at the Transgender Gender-Variant Intersex Justice Project (TGIJP), where he helped secure the funding and resources needed to stabilize TGIJP’s grassroots work with transgender people in jails and prisons across California. Previous to this, he served as a youth educator with Youth ALIVE! where he was awarded for his violence prevention programming with youth of color in Oakland. Additionally, Wazi is committed the critical work of Black liberation through art and other forms of creative resistance like direct action and community organizing and contributes to Bay Area organizing efforts through Black Lives Matter and Black Youth Project 100. Wazi’s own philosophy in development has made him a strategic player in helping connect the most impacted individuals, communities and organizations to the wealth and resources needed not only to sustain community work on the frontlines, but also to build community-driven pipelines toward self-determination and freedom. He believes firmly in utilizing strategic development as a tool for change towards collective liberation and centers this philosophy in his commitment to Black and trans liberation.
Lorraine Torres Colon
TIDE Program Coordinator
Lorraine Torres Colon was born in Mayaguez and raised in Guaynabo, Puerto Rico. Her own experience coming to the continental U.S. deeply motivated her subsequent work supporting migrant communities. Lorraine received her Bachelor of Arts with honors, in Sociology from North Carolina State University. In North Carolina, she focused her research on race and ethnic relations and immigration. For her thesis, she examined and analyzed academic literature on mental health trends among Hispanic migrants in the US and proposed future avenues of research.
After receiving her degree, Lorraine began working for an immigration law firm in Raleigh, North Carolina. There she focused on working with immigrant victims of crime and with minors who had come to the United States fleeing abuse, abandonment or neglect. Since moving to the bay area, she has continued working as an immigration law paralegal for a law firm in San Francisco, specializing in family petitions and asylum. Lorraine has enjoyed the opportunity to continue assisting immigrants seek and gain lawful status and now looks forward to joining the team at the Transgender Law Center helping those at highest risk find relief from deportation.