Inside Track: Issues Facing Transgender Clients: Lawyers, Book Authors Provide Insight:

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  • September

    Issues Facing Transgender Clients: Lawyers, Book Authors Provide Insight

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    Sep. 5, 2018 – Do anti-discrimination laws cover transgender individuals? How do gender transitioning or transitioned individuals obtain necessary government documents, such as driver licenses or passports, which contain gender markers?

    These are complex questions that Abby Churchill and Nick Fairweather discuss in this video, and as authors of a newly released book published by State Bar of Wisconsin PINNACLE®, Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity, and the Law (1st Edition, 2018-19).

    Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) individuals face unique challenges in school, employment, health care, and many other settings. Many don’t understand their legal rights, and the others may not know their obligations.

    The book, with discussions about LGBTQ law in the areas of public education, employment, gender transitioning, HIV, sexual orientation, hate crimes, cyberbullying, and an array of other issues, fills a void in legal education on these emerging areas.

    Churchill, an attorney and longtime LGBTQ community advocate, and Nick Fairweather, a labor and employment attorney who works on transgender issues, specifically discuss gender transitioning and how that process works from a legal standpoint.

    For instance, Churchill discusses identity documents, such as birth certificates, driver licenses, and passports. Those documents include names and gender markers.

    “For folks who are gender transitioning, there is a rather complicated process for changing the name and gender marker on that identity document,” said Churchill of Churchill Law Firm LLC. “You really have to do it document by document.”

    The gender marker is even more complex, says Churchill, especially in Wisconsin, when applying to change a gender marker on a Wisconsin birth certificate.

    Even if a transgender individual has successfully transitioned, Fairweather of Hawks Quindell, S.C., says advocating on behalf of their legal rights is not an easy road.

    “Transgender status is not a protected characteristic explicitly” under the federal Civil Rights Act, he said. “Plaintiffs have approached these cases by bringing claims under the sex discrimination prohibition,” said Fairweather, noting that in bringing such claims, lawyers must be creative litigating in these relatively uncharted waters.

    PINNACLE's newly released book, including discussions by Fairweather, Churchill, and other Wisconsin lawyers, will give lawyers the guidance they need to help LGBTQ clients.

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