KJ Popkin they/them
KJ Popkin has joined the NCLR litigation team as a Staff Attorney to challenge transgender medical bans across the country. Prior to joining NCLR, they worked as a civil rights litigator targeting the worst abuses of the criminal legal system and acted as appellate counsel in eight high-impact appeals in federal circuit courts. They filed and argued a case in the Third Circuit that reversed the dismissal of a case filed by a transgender woman who, despite having been beaten and raped at an all-male facility, was denied a Bivens remedy. The Third Circuit’s precedential opinion in Shorter v. United States is the first of its kind to affirm that Farmer v. Brennan remains good law and affords a Bivens remedy for incarcerated victims of violence in federal facilities.
They also won cases in the Fifth Circuit and Second Circuit reversing dismissals of cases brought pro se by incarcerated individuals with disabilities who were denied accommodations under the ADA, creating a precedent that recognizes the full scope of the ADA’s protections after its amendment in 2008. KJ’s trial-level advocacy on behalf of incarcerated individuals has been profiled in the Washington Post, Reason Magazine, Law 360, and the Harvard Law Journal.
KJ began their career at Planned Parenthood, where they worked as a litigator to defend access to abortion and Medicaid in trial and appellate courts across the country. KJ graduated from Harvard Law School in 2017, where they worked on health law litigation at the Center for Health Law and Policy Innovation and interned with multiple abortion providers.
KJ has a Master’s of Public Health from the Harvard T.H. Chan School for Public Health, where they were awarded the prestigious Zuckerman Fellowship award by the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. They graduated with honors from Harvard University in 2011, where they majored in Visual and Environmental Studies.