Amy Whelan

Amy Whelan, Esq. she / her / hers

Senior Staff Attorney

Amy Whelan has been a Senior Staff Attorney at the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR) since 2011 and works on NCLR’s full range of litigation, policy, and public education work. Amy litigates complex civil cases around the country regarding marriage equality, employment discrimination, Title IX, family law, access to healthcare, prisoners’ civil rights, the First Amendment, and other constitutional matters.

Amy represented the mother of a transgender teenager who was subjected to severe discrimination during an inpatient stay, resulting in a landmark opinion holding that discrimination based on a person’s transgender identity is sex discrimination under the Affordable Care Act. Amy also represents Adree Edmo, a transgender woman housed in the Idaho Department of Corrections who was denied gender-affirming surgery despite her desperate need for that care. NCLR, along with co-counsel, obtained an order finding that the denial of care violates the Eighth Amendment’s prohibition on cruel and unusual punishment and requiring prison officials to provide the surgery. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed that decision, which the U.S. Supreme Court refused to review. In July 2020, Ms. Edmo became the first person in the country to receive court-ordered surgery in prison. Amy also represents Mary Walsh and Bev Nance in their litigation against a senior living facility that denied them housing because they are a same-sex couple.

Before joining NCLR, Amy was an associate at the San Francisco firm of Rosen, Bien, Galvan & Grunfeld LLP (RBGG). In 2008 and 2009, Amy was a member of the trial team in Coleman/Plata v. Schwarzenegger, a combined lawsuit challenging the California prison system’s unconstitutional provision of medical and mental healthcare because of severe overcrowding. A unanimous three-judge panel ruled in favor of the prisoners in that case and the United States Supreme Court affirmed that decision in 2011. Amy received her Bachelor’s Degree from Princeton University and her Juris Doctorate from Northeastern University School of Law.