In late August, Transgender Law Center Legal Director Ilona Turner and Staff Attorney Matt Wood took part in the Lavender Law Conference and Transgender Law Institute in Washington, D.C. The Lavender Law Conference is the largest annual conference for LGBT lawyers, with two full days of programming about issues related to LGBT rights.
Matt was involved in the planning of the day-long Transgender Law Institute for lawyers and law students which took place the day before the official conference began. This year’s Institute included discussions of trans youth and education and trans marriage and parenting, with panels featuring a number of representatives from the United States Department of Justice. The keynote speaker was Diana Flynn, the chief lawyer in the appellate section of the Civil Rights Division at the Department of Justice, who is also a trans woman. For the last session of the day participants heard from local activists who are part of the D.C. Trans Coalition.
During the conference, Ilona and Matt organized and presented several workshops about trans rights. Matt spoke on a panel about emerging issues in employment discrimination and identity documents for transgender people, focusing on the victory we won from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) in their April decision in Macy v. Department of Justice. Ilona spoke on a panel about advocating for the rights of transgender and gender nonconforming young people in schools, custody cases, and foster care or juvenile justice settings. She also organized and moderated a panel that discussed strategies for challenging exclusions for transition-related care in health care plans.
The conference also included a number of other sessions that either focused on or included trans issues, including a panel discussion about the military’s exclusion of trans people even after the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, which was broadcast on C-SPAN. There were a number of advances in trans rights this year across the country that were celebrated by speakers across a number of panels, the topmost of which was the EEOC’s groundbreaking April decision in our Macy case. Other speakers on a variety of panels, including EEOC Chair Chai Feldblum, mentioned that decision as one of the most significant events of the year for LGBT rights.
Lavender Law is organized by the National LGBT Bar Association. Next year’s conference will be in San Francisco, California.