Recognizing that there are close to zero—or zero—trans women of color and trans people of color at NYU Law School, and the lack of a critical mass of trans students in general, OUTLaw, and a coalition of student groups, demand that NYU Law School immediately create and implement a plan for accepting more trans women of color, trans people of color, and trans people more generally; and commit to funding a scholarship for trans women of color, and trans people of color, and trans people more generally. Sign our petition.
1. Immediate development of a strategic plan to accept more transgender women of color, transgender people of color, and transgender people;
2. Transgender cultural competency training for all Admissions and Financial Aid Administrators;
3. Commitment to fund a scholarship for transgender women of color, transgender people of color, and transgender people;
4. The addition of language on the NYU Law application to give transgender students the option to identify as transgender;
5. The cross-referencing of transgender identity, gender, and race data in admissions to target recruitment and acceptance of trans women of color and trans people of color;
6. A strategic plan at the end of every admissions cycle about how to improve the admission of trans women of color and trans people of color.
American Constitution Society (ACS)
Asian-Pacific American Law Students Association (APALSA)
Black Allied Law Students Association (BALSA)
Coalition on Law & Representation (CoLR)
Environmental Law Journal (ELJ)
If/When/How: Lawyering for Reproductive Justice
Immigrant Rights Project (IRP)
Journal of International Law & Politics (JILP)
Latinx Law Students Association (LaLSA)
Law Women Middle Eastern Law Students Association (MELSA)
Moot Court Board
Review of Law & Social Change (RLSC)
South Asian Law Students Association (SALSA)
Women of Color Collective (WoCC)
Please read our allied organization's statements:
Dear NYU Law Community,
NYU’s American Constitution Society writes in support of OUTLaw’s Trans Week of Action this week, and are joining their demand for changes in our admissions policies to recruit, accept, and support more trans students of color on campus.
The American Constitution Society for Law and Policy (ACS) promotes the vitality of the U.S. Constitution and the fundamental values it expresses: individual rights and liberties, genuine equality, access to justice, democracy and the rule of law. We embrace the progress our nation has made toward full embodiment of the Constitution's core values, but recognize the vast amount of work we have left for the law to truly be a force for improving the lives of all people. In particular, for transgender persons in our communities, the law has been an oppressive means of marginalization and silencing. That must change, and we believe that change can start with us at NYU Law.
As an ally to the #racismlivesheretoo demonstration and now with Trans Week of Action movement, we are asking NYU Law to live up to its name as a leader on public interest and diversity initiatives, and make fundamental changes to how we treat marginalized persons and communities on and off campus. Providing full scholarships and support to trans students is a necessary and long-overdue first step in recognizing transgender persons as leaders and agents for the change we seek in our legal system. Therefore, we join in the call for significant recruitment efforts and full financial support for trans students.
Please join us and sign onto this petition for the admission and full financial support of transgender people at NYU School of Law.
Sahng-Ah Yoo and James Mayer
NYU Law’s American Constitution Society
In the wake of North Carolina’s “bathroom bill,” I remember being struck by the signs hanging around the law school encouraging individuals to use the restroom consistent with their gender identity. At the time, two thoughts stood out to me. First, the signs were a positive example in trying times, a physical manifestation of the inclusivity that NYU Law so frequently espoused. Second, I wondered how many people there were in our community to whom the signs actually applied.
Any community that strives to be truly inclusive must focus on acceptance and the fostering of a safe space for all; however, outward acceptance, standing alone, risks being a token gesture — full of sound and fury, signifying nothing. Our country has a long history of legal and social oppression that cannot be overcome merely by speaking of inclusivity. Words must be accompanied by action.
As Justice Ginsburg eloquently explained in her Gratz v. Bollinger dissent, “We are not far distant from an overtly discriminatory past, and the effects of centuries of law-sanctioned inequality remain painfully evident in our communities and schools.” We as a community need the voices and minds of transgender students if we are to foster the diversity necessary to truly understand and change the laws and practices of our country for a better future. To that end, the university needs to take more positive action and work toward actively removing the barriers put in place by a long history of discriminatory laws and social customs.
We urge the students of NYU Law who feel similarly to read and sign the petition put forward by OUTLaw.
Daniel Blaze & Michael Freedman
Class of 2019
Managing Editors, Annual Survey of American Law
This week is OUTLaw’s Trans Week of Action. If you grew up in a heteronormative and traditional Asian American community, LGBTQ-related topics were not brought up often or at all. We are seen as the model minority, but this stereotype distracts from and exacerbates the numerous struggles in our community. We cannot--we must not--continue to ignore and silence the injustices that our trans sisters and brothers face.
There are at least 325,000 Asian and Pacific Islanders who identify as LGBTQ of the 18 million living in this country. The 2015 U.S. Transgender Survey found that, of over 27,000 transgender respondents nationwide, Asian and Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander respondents face severe sexual and emotional trauma. 41% of Asian and Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander respondents have been sexually assaulted and 39% experienced serious psychological distress in the month before completing the survey (eight times the rate in the U.S. population). Additionally, Asian and Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander respondents constantly confront economic justices: 10% were unemployed (double the rate in the U.S. population), 32% were living in poverty (triple the rate in the U.S. population), and 21% have experienced homelessness.
Trans individuals have important perspectives to contribute to our academic environment and growth. NYU Law has not given trans voices an adequate opportunity to be heard. To create a community that is inclusive, supportive, and welcoming for all members of our community, please sign on to this petition calling for increased admission and financial support for transgender people, specifically transgender women and people of color. We are proud to wholeheartedly support OUTLaw, and we hope you will join us.
Kirstie Yu and Jocelyn Shih
On behalf of the Asian-Pacific American Law Students Association
Trans people of color (TPOC) have fought for years to claim their right to exist, and to thrive. Over the past several years, TPOC have brought their issues, their pain, and their joys to the forefront of the culture, to demand the respect and vulnerability they deserve. It is our duty to use whatever privileges we have as cis-gendered black students to aid them in their quest for self-determination.
The statistics are grim. For issues that affect black communities nationwide, black trans people are more likely to be severely affected. For instance, 38% of Black respondents were living in
poverty, compared to 24% of Black people in the U.S. population, according to a 2015 study by the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force and the National Center for Transgender Equality. Since January 2013, Human Rights Campaign and the Trans People of Color Collective identified 102 trans people who were victims of fatal violence. Of those 102 people, 75 identified as Black or African American.
From #BlackLivesMatter to #SayHerName, black law students, and the wider community, must engage in the fight against systematic oppression, through a black, queer, and feminist lens. We cannot stay silent when our trans siblings experience oppression, because their liberation is bound together with our own.
Trans people of color are brilliant. This shouldn’t be necessary to say, but it is true nonetheless. They deserve access to this institution, not simply for the benefit of inclusion, but because they have the personal experience and intellectual acumen to develop innovative legal strategies that will impact the world. BALSA is privileged to support OutLaw’s Trans Week of Action, and we encourage the administration to work with them to make this idea a reality.
Recognizing that there are close to zero—or zero—trans women of color and trans people of color at NYU Law School, and the lack of a critical mass of trans students in general, BALSA stands with OutLaw in its demand for NYU Law School to immediately create and implement a plan for accepting more trans women of color, trans people of color, and trans people more generally; and commit to funding a scholarship for trans women of color, and trans people of color, and trans people. We encourage students to sign their petition here.
This week marks the beginning of Trans Week of Action at NYU Law. As a journal that brings together viewpoints from around the world, the Journal of International Law & Politics (JILP) understands the importance of diverse opinions and experiences in our own community. Trans individuals suffer disproportionate rates of violence and mistreatment in many communities. A 2015 study by the National Center for Transgender Equality found the following:
30% of respondents who had a job reported being fired, denied a promotion, or experiencing some other form of mistreatment in the workplace due to their gender identity or expression
Nearly one-third (29%) of respondents were living in poverty, compared to 12% in the U.S. population.
39% of respondents experienced serious psychological distress in the month prior to completing the survey, compared with only 5% of the U.S. population.
40% of respondents have attempted suicide in their lifetime—nearly nine times the attempted suicide rate in the U.S. population (4.6%).
The full report and executive summary are available here.
JILP is proud to join with groups across NYU Law in support of the Trans Week of Action with the goal of increasing recognition of trans individuals at our school, including promotion of OUTlaw’s petition for immediate actions. As an organization, we will endeavor to listen to the stories that will be shared this week and will look for ways to meaningfully contribute to a more inclusive environment.
Editor in Chief
Journal of International Law & Politics
Dear NYU Law Community,
We are writing in support of OUTLaw’s Trans Week of Action this week, and are joining their demand for full scholarships and support for trans people, particularly trans women of color or other trans people of color (TPOC). NYU Law consistently promotes itself as a leader in public interest and a leader in diversity initiatives. Despite that, trans people make up only a small fraction of the student and faculty community at NYU, and TPOC are particularly absent.
Trans women of color and trans people of color are consistently marginalized and criminalized by the legal system, and our law school environment is largely silent on the particular injustices trans people face. Our silence and the underrepresentation of TPOC promotes the continuation of this marginalization. We must radically reform our institution to avoid replicating and perpetuating this broken system. One of the primary issues is the lack of any critical mass of trans people at NYU who understand the realities of trans experiences. Providing full scholarships and support to trans students is a necessary and long-overdue first step for an institution in a system that regularly targets TPOC. Therefore, we join in the call for significant recruitment efforts and full financial support for trans students, particularly trans women of color and trans people of color.
We encourage you all to sign onto this petition for the admission and full financial support of transgender women of color, transgender people of color, and trans people generally at NYU School of Law.
The Coalition on Law and Representation
The Environmental Law Journal supports the increased admission and full financial support of transgender women of color, people of color, and transgender people at NYU School of Law. As climate change continues to cause more extreme weather patterns, all people are impacted. Yet only a small subset of people is represented within the exclusive community of lawyers who are in positions to effect change. It is important to ensure that all people have a voice, and this starts at the law school level. There are almost no trans people of color, and binary trans people at the law school. Outside of the environmental sphere, transgender people are subject to many legal challenges. ELJ, in recognizing that causes are best represented by those experiencing the challenges, calls for a commitment by NYU Law school to support the admission and financial needs of transgender people. We urge all students to sign OUTLaw’s petition for the admission and full financial support of transgender women of color, transgender people of color, and trans people generally at NYU School of Law.
The Environmental Law Journal
Reproductive Justice, a term coined by women of color in the 1990s, demands the complete physical, mental, spiritual, political, economic, and social well-being of all people. RJ can only be achieved when everyone has the economic, social and political power to make healthy decisions about their bodies, sexuality, and reproduction. Equality cannot exist until all people are treated with human dignity and given access to the resources necessary to thrive. RJ demands that all people have agency over their bodies and futures, and trans rights cannot be left aside. The push towards a more honest and inclusive reproductive justice movement must include the stories and struggles of trans people.
The reproductive justice framework developed as a rejection of the white-centric reproductive rights movement that historically excluded women of color, low-income women, and LGBTQIA individuals. Oppression plagues these communities in the form of inadequate or nonexistent healthcare, forced sterilization, lack of bodily autonomy, and discrimination in academic and professional spaces. The desire to exert control over sexual expression, identity, and reproduction stems from the insidious root of white supremacy and patriarchy.
NYU Law’s chapter of If/When/How: Lawyering for Reproductive Justice recognizes that discrimination starts early, and we are working towards building a more inclusive and affirming legal community. But homogenous institutions all but guarantee a homogenous focus on the straight, white, male experience. As reproductive justice students and advocates, we aim to serve the needs of a variety of communities whose rights to bodily autonomy and reproduction have been circumscribed, yet recognize that this is an impossible task without the active participation and inclusion of communities and voices of those most affected by abusive policies and rhetoric.
It is time for NYU Law to step up. The lack of access to legal education and elite academic spaces only serves to perpetuate existing disparities and discrimination. Furthermore, as an institution that prides itself on its commitment to public service, NYU’s lack of trans voices on campus prevents students and faculty alike from fully understanding and addressing the needs of some of the most marginalized communities in our country. The Law School can help to mitigate this problem by financially supporting transgender people and people of color, and by holding itself accountable to its institutional commitment to building an inclusive and truly representative community of law students and future advocates.
As such, we urge you to sign the petition.
The U.S. immigration system has been a tool of nation-building since its inception, and in that role has primarily served to let in non-citizens deemed “desirable” while working to systematically exclude or marginalize non-citizens who are “undesirable.” This is not just a feature of Trump’s America, though the “Muslim Ban” and comments about “shithole countries” certainly clarified the immigration system’s operative logic. One needs only to examine the Chinese Exclusion Act from the 1880s, the treatment of workers in the Bracero Program in the 1940s, or the efforts in the 1950s to exclude “communists” (check out Harisiades v. Shaughnessy) to see the way in which our system has always treated non-citizens that do not fit into America’s white supremacist capitalist heteropatriarchy -- in short, non-citizens who are people of color, who are poor, who lack formal education, or who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender.
We have seen time and again how immigration laws and their enforcement systematically result in the arrest, detention, and deportation of large swaths of our communities. Transgender immigrants face discriminatory policies and obstacles to permanent status at every stage of the immigration system.
As part of OUTLaw’s Trans Week of Action, the NYU Immigrant Rights Project is highlighting the following issues (a partial list) which pose problems for all immigrants, but which disproportionately impact trans immigrants.
Disproportionate Arrest, Detention, and Deportation
The intersecting identities of transgender immigrants, many of whom also identify as people of color and some of whom are low-income, mean they suffer some of the worst consequences of a profoundly oppressive immigration system. Police forces nationwide disproportionately profile, target, falsely arrest, and abuse transgender people; since our immigration laws link police interactions with immigration consequences, this means trans people also face a higher risk of detention and deportation as a result. Since the advent of “broken windows policing” tracking “quality of life crimes,” low-income people are more likely to be targeted for “survival-related crimes,” committed so that they can eat, take shelter, find healthcare, ride the subway, etc. For low-income trans immigrants, these crimes run the risk of not only facing abuse if held in jail, but also the subsequent immigration consequences.
Treatment in Detention
If detained, transgender immigrants face sexual abuse, denial of medical treatment, and psychologically damaging isolation through solitary confinement. Transgender women were historically placed in men’s facilities. As of February 2016, ICE officials were unable to state whether this practice was ongoing. Transgender women have reported sexual assault committed by both male guards and other male detainees, and also reported inaction on the part of detention staff when such assaults were either directly observed or reported. Transgender individuals are often denied medical treatment while in detention, including hormone-therapy and life-sustaining HIV/AIDS medication. For a full report on the treatment of transgender individuals in immigrant detention please see the following report by the Familia Trans Queer Liberation Movement and Human Rights Watch. ICE currently runs a transgender housing unit at Cibola County Correctional Center in New Mexico located 80 miles from Albuquerque. Though a Special Unit for Transgender Immigrants was promised, it never opened.
Documentation / REAL ID Act
Whether undocumented or in the United States with valid visas that do not accurately reflect their gender-identity, transgender immigrants face vast issues when it comes to documentation. For transgender immigrants with valid visas that do not reflect their gender, correcting these forms of identification entails doing so under an administration openly hostile to transgender people, and going through federal employees who often seek not only to deny trans immigrants their rights but also humiliate them in the process of doing so. The REAL ID Act added of 2005 mandated that state driver’s licenses and personal identification cards meet certain stringent federal standards, making it more difficult for trans immigrants -- especially those who are low-income or homeless -- to even get driver’s licenses, let alone passports. Valid documentation that matches one’s gender identity is essential for transgender individuals seeking to navigate any bureaucracy, as well as protect against discrimination, and the many hurdles for transgender immigrants to obtain documentation makes this need all the more consequential.
The NYU Immigrant Rights Project is proud to support OUTLaw’s Trans Week of Action, and use the week as an opportunity to highlight the ways in which the violence of the immigration system disproportionately impacts trans immigrants and trans immigrants of color. At NYU Law, trans immigrants and their lived experiences should never be left out of the discussion around immigration. We demand the NYU Law administration follow in model of groups such as the Latinx Rights Scholarship Symposium, which invited the TransCaravan to campus, and the OUTLaw Gayla, raising money for Trans Women of Color Collective and the Identity Documents Project. If student groups and scholarships are working to make campus more inclusive of all gender identities, the administration, with the resources at hand of the law school, can surely follow suit and support -- in concrete ways -- trans people and trans students. We encourage all those who agree to support by signing this petition.
Immigrant Rights Project
In June of 1969, Sylvia Rivera, a transgender Latina activist, and her friends Marsha P. Johnson and Miss Major, battled with police officers just a few blocks away from the law school at the Stonewall Inn to put an end to a practice of arresting people for not wearing clothes that matched their assigned gender at birth. After rioting, Sylvia, Marsha, and Miss Major, all trans women of color, dedicated their lives to building a better world for LGBTQ folks, particularly poor folks, folks of color, and trans and gender nonconforming folks.
Today, New York City is home to one of the most vibrant and politically active trans Latina communities in the country. For the past six summers, transgender Latinas have marched through Roosevelt Avenue in Jackson Heights, Queens, demanding respect and an end to violence, led by Make the Road’s Trans Immigrant Project. Many trans Latinas fled horrific experiences in Latin America, looking for safety, community, and a chance at life.
What they find is often far from their idyllic vision of life in the United States. Lacking papers and legal protections, many trans Latinas have a difficult time finding employment because of their gender presentation and employers’ discomfort with their gender. A 2013 report by Make the Road surveying New York transgender Latina immigrants found that 32% of transgender and gender non-conforming people surveyed reported having been fired from at least one job based on their actual or perceived gender identity and expression and 41% of all transgender and gender non-conforming respondents reported experiencing some form of harassment on the job.
Almost 50 years after Sylvia Rivera defended her community at Stonewall, trans Latinas and trans women of color continue to face horrendous violence at the hands of the police. Another report by Make the Road found that 61% of transgender Latina immigrants had been harrassed by the police and 46% of transgender respondents reported some form of physical abuse by police.
Despite the state violence inflicted on the community, trans Latinas and trans women of color continue to lead the way in fighting for a better world for us all. Earlier this month, LaLSA raised almost $2,000 for the Lorena Borjas Community Fund, named after prominent Queens trans Latina activist Lorena Borjas, which provides bail money and financial support to transgender Latinas. Trans Latinas and trans women of color are building what they need to survive in spite of institutions that don’t include them.
Trans Latinas, and trans women of color, have consistently fought the legal system for all our benefit, yet they are conspicuously missing from our law school. The lack of trans voices on this campus is reprehensible. Excluding trans women of color from our law school only perpetuates inequality by keeping our doors closed to intelligent, passionate, and worthy women who will inevitably shape the law and our profession to continue to build a better world free of state violence and full of self-determination for all of us.
We urge the law school to accept and financially support trans women of color, trans people of color, and trans people generally. Please support OUTLaw in this endeavor by signing this petition.
Dear Dean Morrison,
We support the NYU Law Strategic Plan to enhance diversity and inclusivity both in our law school as well as within the legal profession more broadly. Specifically, we applaud two objectives set forth in the Strategic Plan:
- Expand efforts to recruit faculty and students of color and from historically under-represented groups to the Law School.
- Enlarge the Law School’s need- and merit-based scholarship programs to better attract and support students of color and from historically under-represented groups.
As part of the Trans Week of Action, OUTLaw has shared numerous reports that document the violence and marginalization experienced by transgender individuals in education, employment, and the criminal justice system. Transgender women and people of color experience particularly acute hardships for which our current legal system fails to provide adequate relief.
By implementing the Strategic Plan, NYU Law has recognized the tremendous role it can play in acting to redress the inequality that is endemic to our society. In confronting such inequality, the Strategic Plan’s recruitment and scholarship program objectives must include transgender students and scholars.
Diversity has incalculable benefits. It enriches the work that legal academia produces and ensures greater accessibility to our legal system by underrepresented communities. Proactive recruitment and sufficient educational funding are critical as we work to realize a vision for a more diverse community both within the Law School and legal profession. To that end, we encourage students and our staff to sign on to OUTLaw's petition.
Miriam Marks, incoming Editor-in-Chief, NYU Law Review
Sharmeen Morrison, incoming Diversity and Membership Editor, NYU Law Review
Law Women stands in solidarity with trans people. As an organization committed to gender equality, it is part of our mission to advocate for individuals to be treated with dignity and respect regardless of their gender identity. Every day, trans people experience discrimination as a result of their gender identity. According to the National Transgender Discrimination Survey in 2016, 78% of transgender/gender non-conforming students in grades K-12 experienced harassment, while 35% experienced physical assault and 12% experienced sexual violence. In addition, respondents of this survey experienced unemployment at double the rate of the general population. 26% lost a job due to being transgender. 20% of respondents reporting that they were evicted or denied housing for being transgender.
It is our responsibility as a law school community and as a student group that is geared toward tackling issues of gender inequity to shed light on the experiences of trans people. In order to advocate for gender equality, we must ensure that our conversations INCLUDE the entire spectrum of gendered experiences, not simply those of cis-gendered women. It is vital to have trans and gender non-confirming people at the table when these conversations are had. Without a critical mass of trans and gender non-conforming people at the law school, our mission is weaker and less complete.
Harassment, torture, murder—this is the experience of transgender individuals in the Middle East. Family is no refuge, as dominant cultural norms often lead to the most intimate of abuse.
A 2013 Pew Research Study showed widespread denunciation of homosexuality in the the Middle East. More than 9 in 10 people said that homosexuality should be rejected in the countries surveyed. Even Lebanon, generally considered to be more tolerant within the region, still prohibits sexual relations “contradicting the laws of nature.”
Homophobia is widespread across the region, but the problem goes much deeper. The intense, regional patriarchy enforces rigidly-defined gender roles. Throughout the Middle East, conformity to social norms is expected and expressions of individuality are frowned upon. A public face is expected of all. At best, private life provides relief. But norms often leech onto solitude. There are no safe spaces. Trans people experience isolation, shame, and abuse from their families and communities.
Traditional views on gender pose particular problems for trans people. Although Islamic rulings provide for sex reassignment surgery for intersex individuals in countries like Iran, the application of these rulings becomes more difficult concerning gender dysphoria. Obtaining and covering the costs of surgery is the initial feat; gaining social acceptance and official recognition prove immense hurdles. Left in further dismay are individuals who do not want operations, but rather simply acceptance as they are.
The peril of the Middle Eastern trans community is heightened by the harrows of regional conflict. Trans refugees find themselves having to flee not only from communities unwilling to tolerate them, but also from deadly armed conflict. LGBTQ refugees under UNHCR protection face magnified hardships: a heightened risk of harassment, arrest, kidnap, torture, rape, and murder. Even daily concerns such as finding employment and shelter become seemingly insurmountable.
The Middle Eastern Law Students Association (MELSA) recognizes the struggle of trans individuals across the Middle East. We value their intellect and resilience, strengthened by a life spent battling political turmoil and personal assaults. We recognize that a Law School without representation of trans individuals is void of important perspectives and serves to further systematic exclusion.
MELSA asks that you also recognize the international and domestic struggles of trans people. Years of community activism lie ahead, but as a first step—during this Trans Week of Action—we ask that you sign a collective petition for the creation of a scholarship at the Law School dedicated to trans individuals.
In solidarity and with thanks,
Middle Eastern Law Students Association (MELSA)
The NYU School of Law Moot Court Board's mission is to enrich the legal education of our members and explore new approaches to unsettled legal questions through written and oral advocacy. Our ability to fulfill this mission depends a great deal on the diversity of the law school’s student body. A diverse student body contributes to a diverse MCB that develops diverse advocates.
Moot Court Board has no members who are openly trans. This means that our contributions to intellectual life at the law school necessarily lack trans perspectives. MCB competitors, Casebook problem writers, and Proceedings contributors benefit from the review of their work by their peers. When that peer group fails to include significant subsets of the population, our mission suffers.
Our organization focuses on appellate advocacy, an area of the law which lacks diversity on many fronts, including with regard to trans people and trans people of color. In order to increase trans representation and an understanding of legal issues affecting trans persons, we need trans students and trans students of color to have a presence at the law school.
Moot Court Board supports the endeavors of NYU OUTLaw and the coalition of organizations it has assembled to make NYU Law accessible to trans students and trans students of color. Until there is a critical mass of trans students at the law school, MCB cannot encompass the range of perspectives and diversity of advocates that should exist at NYU Law and within the legal profession.
Andrew Townsell (2017-18 EIC) and Randi Brown (2018-19 EIC)
Trans individuals are routinely profiled and criminalized—research by the Center for American Progress and the Movement Advancement Project finds that 16% of trans and gender nonconforming individuals have spent time in jail as adults, compared with 5% in the general population. According to the United States Transgender Survey, nearly one-third (30%) of respondents who had a job reported being fired, denied a promotion, or experiencing some other form of mistreatment in the workplace in the year prior to taking the survey due to their gender identity or expression, such as being verbally harassed or physically or sexually assaulted at work. Nearly one-third (30%) of United States Transgender Survey respondents have experienced homelessness at some point in their lives. In order to develop legal thinking around these critical issues and the plethora of other concerns facing the trans community, we need more trans scholars. Yet, at NYU Law, we have only a few trans identifying students and close to zero trans faculty. NYU Law must do better to increase the admissions and hiring of trans individuals.
At the Review of Law & Social Change, we are constantly reconsidering and changing our perspectives on issues central to social change: from housing to healthcare, from criminal law to the right to protest. Every day, we, as a journal and as individuals, progress and grow based on what we read. We learn from the lived experiences of our authors and the perspectives they have gained through their legal careers. Yet, there is still a dearth of legal scholarship on trans rights and an abhorrent absence of trans voices on campus. As a result, these perspectives are not adequately represented on our journal. We consistently receive articles that talk about the needs of cisgender women, forgetting the impact these arguments have on our trans sisters, and we regularly encounter articles about the LGBTQIA community that fail to examine the unique challenges facing trans individuals. Nonbinary people are almost never mentioned. The Review of Law & Social Change is committed to supporting the trans community—but we cannot succeed without the demonstrated support of our law school.
The Review of Law & Social Change looks forward to continuing to develop trans scholarship and to elevating trans voices on a variety of issues. We know this is best achieved through having trans staff members on more law journals and writing more articles.
The Review of Law & Social Change is wholeheartedly in solidarity with OUTLaw and this Trans Week of Action and we urge you to sign the attached petition.
Heather and Raquel, Outgoing Editors-in-Chief
Molly and Vanessa, Incoming Editors-in-Chief
N.Y.U Review of Law & Social Change
We are writing in support of OUTLaw’s Trans Week of Action, joining in the demand for the admission and full financial support of transgender people at the Law School, particularly transgender people of color and women of color.
All too often, South Asian communities do not embrace, discuss, or even acknowledge issues facing transgender individuals. Nonetheless, there are at least 325,000 Asian and Pacific Islanders who identify as LGBTQ of the 18 million living in this country.
Further, the statistics on the challenges facing these transgender individuals are sobering. The 2015 U.S. Transgender Survey found that, of over 27,000 transgender respondents nationwide, Asian and Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander respondents face severe sexual and emotional trauma. 41% of Asian and Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander respondents have been sexually assaulted, and 39% experienced serious psychological distress in the month before completing the survey (eight times the rate in the U.S. population). Additionally, Asian and Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander respondents constantly confront economic injustices. 10% were unemployed (double the rate in the U.S. population), 32% were living in poverty (triple the rate in the U.S. population), 21% have experienced homelessness at some point in their lives, and 11% have experienced homelessness in the past year.
Despite these obstacles, Asian and Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander respondents do not feel comfortable accessing institutions that may mitigate these challenges. For example, 58% of respondents said they would feel somewhat or very uncomfortable asking the police for help. 26% of those who saw a healthcare provider in the past year before completing the survey reported having at least one negative experience related to being transgender, such as being refused treatment, being verbally harassed, being physically or sexually assaulted, or having to teach the provider about transgender people in order to get appropriate care.
These statistics are a somber reminder of the oppression and discrimination that trans Asian and Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islanders face. The NYU Law community and the legal industry more generally are not free from these injustices. There are almost no trans people at the law school, much less trans people of color. Further, trans women of color and trans people are particularly subjected to violence in the legal system, especially in jails, prisons, and detention centers.
The SALSA community must work to redress these injustices. Diversity is the bedrock of a vibrant, innovative legal profession. The perspective and lived experiences of trans individuals provide important contributions to the intellectual life of the law school and academia more broadly. A more diverse community creates better lawyers, providing practitioners with various perspectives to better understand the world and meet the needs of those they serve. Finally, diversity increases accessibility to the legal system to those who need it the most.
SALSA is proud to support OUTLaw, and we encourage all members to sign the petition for the admission and full financial support of transgender people at NYU School of Law.
Vineeta Nangia and Ravi Singh, Co-Chairs
South Asian Law Students Association
Women of color have historically fueled movements for change. From Pauli Murray to Grace Lee Boggs to Angela Davis to Sylvia Rivera, great changemakers who both identify as women and who are othered for their racial identity know firsthand that by merely taking ownership of yourself and your identity, you can challenge the status quo.
Queerness has often been labeled a threat to society, and gender non-conformity is viewed as an even greater threat to a fictitious “cultural status quo.” There is no protection for the right to the free and unfiltered expression of one’s gender identity in this country. “Animus” is not “smoked out” in the work of the state to stymie trans people’s ability to be themselves.
Violence against trans folks is the subject of a growing legal and academic literature. In particular, the violence the state inflicts upon trans people of color, especially trans women of color, has been well documented as it goes unremediated in our legal system.
“Queer women of color and trans people of color are among those most vulnerable to severe forms of interpersonal and institutional violence. The police do not protect queer women of color or trans people of color from this violence, but perpetrate much of it. When queer women of color and trans people of color seek to defend themselves, they are often criminalized.”
Gabriel Arkles, Gun Control, Mental Illness, and Black Trans and Lesbian Survival, 42 Sw. L. Rev. 855, 857 (2013).
“Legal systems’ reluctance to acknowledge the reality of intersections of oppression means that legal systems only produce results, if at all, for the members of subordinated groups that have the most other forms of privilege . . . . [for example,] wealthy, white, non-transgender straight, disabled, U.S. Citizen men, but not disabled, Latina, trans immigrants. . . . We challenge lawyers to [recognize that the law can] offer only limited solutions that remain entrenched in a context of structural violence against poor communities, trans and queer communities, and communities of color. For a truly transformative social justice movement, we as lawyers must recognize that we do not belong at the center of leadership; directly impacted communities should govern the agenda and we should follow their lead.”
Gabriel Arkles, Pooja Gehi & Elana Redfield, The Role of Lawyers in Trans Liberation: Building a Transformative Movement for Social Change, 8 Seattle J. Soc. Just. 579, 594, 604 (2010).
As we know from the ongoing struggle for racial justice, rights are rarely freely recognized. More often than not, rights must be demanded. Trans women of color are at the heart of the movement for trans liberation. They have fought publicly against institutions that deny trans people the bodily integrity all people are entitled to. And yet, trans folks are not represented in our legal profession, trans folks are consistently denied entry to elite law schools, and trans folks’ voices are therefore far from centered in our discussions of their rights and their freedoms. Trans women of color, on whom the state visits the most violence, are noticeably absent from our academic community. The Trans Women of Color Collective, one of the honored organizations at the first annual OUTLaw Gayla, captures for us what trans liberation can look like: by centering the selfhood of trans people of color in our movements, trans liberation will, by definition, enshrine the value of trans personhood in our institutions.
We fully support and sign on to OUTLaw’s petition, and demand the admission and full financial support of transgender women of color, people of color, and transgender people at the Law School.