Tell us a little about yourself, Laura.
First and foremost I’m a parent. I’ve got two teenagers and all the fun and excitement associated. They’re the most important things in my life. I grew up in the Pacific Northwest and moved to CA when it became clear that I needed to focus on the challenges associated with not leading an authentic life. I needed to transition. In terms of attitudes, and the overall environment, the Bay Area was a great place to be during that process.

The Seattle area is also a fantastic place to be if you’re in the LGBT community, though, right?
Certainly. We’re not quite in Seattle–we’re temporarily living in Leavenworth, WA with the squirrels and the bears… It’s gotten me closer to my kids and it’s the right, important thing for me to do. Since moving back here, interestingly, I’ve started ID document changes…there were so many and it’s so confusing. It’s amazing how much time it takes navigating government agencies that can’t agree on a process. Most people don’t have to deal with these types of changes and I’m reminded how complicated retitling a car can be for a trans person…and changing the gender marker on my birth certificate. Because of TLC’s work, the driver’s license in CA is much easier.

How were you first acquainted with Transgender Law Center?
I was aware of TLC before moving to the Bay Area and it informed my decision to move to San Francisco, actually. It’s a top tier organization. But, my first experience with TLC was at a fundraiser, meetin enthusiastic supporters and staff. I was impressed by the breadth of community– not just LGBT people but an array of folks in important political and corporate positions. The momentum behind the work brings people together. And, I think TLC has the impact that it does because it knows the key issues to address and the right people who can help advance change around those issues.

What other causes inspire you?
Every year when I look at where I’m going to make donations, there’s a number of causes that are consistent priorities for me…Education, children’s resources, LGBT rights and services – I look for organizations that have the deepest impact on the largest number of people. TLC, for example, can touch tens of thousands of people with just one litigation victory and helps thousands of additional individuals through the legal Helpline on a person-by- person basis. And, it’s not just about the law. TLC also helps change the perspective on trans people. Even in rural Washington, Leavenworth, I meet people and they
realize I’m just like anyone else. But out in the real world, people are still making up their minds. TLC is
helping them.

Why does giving feel good to you?
I was raised with a value around taking care of others…giving back and belonging to a community. As a child, I would visit nursing homes with my mother. We didn’t have a lot to give financially but we could give our time and presence. Each of us has a unique gift to give. That gift may evolve at various points in our lives but it’s important that we remain active in giving back whatever that gift is. But it’s not just about feeling good–giving is an important part of existing. There’s a good karma aspect…even if you’re giving time or skills… everything just seems to get better. Many people have a higher quality of life because of TLC even if they don’t know it. I’m always reminding my Seattle and Bay Area tech industry friends tha the rights we have today came from the hard work of those who came before us. By giving a donation today you’re paying that forward and helping others down the road…because there’s still work to be done. It doesn’t matter to me that I’m not currently living in CA–giving to TLC makes perfect sense given their focus on national level impact litigation and the simple fact that CA is frequently at the vanguard for equality.

Why does TLC speak to you so powerfully?
I will say that I strongly, strongly believe in the mission of TLC. Living an authentic life is fundamental and some people might easily take it for granted. When you’re not living an authentic life, you know it.
Having looked at many NFPs as financial investment opportunities, the return is enormous when investing in TLC. It’s hard for me to find an organization with a comparable dollar-for-dollar impact.

Members of the Transgender Justice Council, our major donor society, make a financial commitment of $1,000 or more annually either in installments or as a single gift. Transgender Justice Council benefits include invitations to special events, regular updates from the Transgender Law Center Executive Director, action alerts, and invitation-only briefings from key TLC staffers.

 To join the Transgender Justice Council or for more information about giving to Transgender Law Center please contact C. Nathan Harris, Development Director at 415.865.0176 ext 307 or

This post is an excerpt from our Authentic Lives interactive magazine. Click here to download it! (.pdf)