In 2020, I began my first year as a law student at UC Davis, moving from my home state of Utah to Northern California. After arriving in Davis I knew I wanted to continue working on behalf of LGBTQ people as I had done in the past as part of the close-knit queer community in Salt Lake City, but I wasn’t sure where to start. Beginning college in a new city, I didn’t have any friends or connections, and the COVID-19 pandemic made it challenging to get involved and meet new people in person.
As I progressed through my classes, I began to worry that I wouldn’t be able to make a change for queer people like I had wanted and considered applying to jobs in other fields for my first summer in college. My worry dissipated when UC Davis held a public interest career fair and I saw an opportunity to interview with the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR). Being from a small town in Utah, I had never heard of NCLR, but I felt my excitement rise as I learned about the organization and the work they did, particularly around transgender youth issues. I was lucky enough to receive an offer to work as a law clerk with NCLR for the summer of 2021.
At NCLR, I have worked on the Legal Information Helpline, as well as assisted in litigation-related research. People reach out to the helpline for a variety of reasons, and I’ve had the opportunity to provide support for those facing discrimination at work and at the hands of law enforcement, medical professionals, and their own families, among many other crises. With the help of NCLR’s legal team, I have been able to provide pertinent legal information and connect callers to vital resources. Most importantly, I have also been able to let many of the LGBTQ callers know that they are not alone in their fights.
I have also assisted in research related to impact litigation, which is when NCLR’s staff attorneys take on cases to change discriminatory laws. For example, I assisted with D.H. v. Snyder, a case in which NCLR is challenging an Arizona law that prevents transgender individuals from getting transition-related surgeries under the state’s Medicaid system. Access to healthcare is life or death for members of the transgender community and it has been inspiring to see the tireless work that NCLR does on behalf of some of the most marginalized members of our population.
I decided to write this blog about my time working as a law clerk at NCLR to let others in our community know that the fight for full legal equality for the LGBTQ community and our families continues. Even with marriage equality recognized nationally, a president who supports LGBTQ equality, and transgender visibility in the media, the battle for queer liberation continues to move forward – and it needs your help.
Some of that remaining work involves challenging discriminatory laws and providing resources and information so that members of the LGBTQ community can have their voices heard and protect their hard-won rights. But the work I assisted with this summer is just one part of the larger movement for LGBTQ rights. It takes people from all backgrounds and walks of life to contribute in their own way, and by doing this work together, we can move towards a future of equality for everyone.