08 October 2012

Turned Away By An LGBT Organization

Every time I think the world has become  a more hospitable, or at least a  less hostile, place for trans people, something happens to shake my faith.   

It's bad enough when hateful, ignorant or simply rude words or treatment comes from the sorts of people from whom we expect it.  At least then we can see it coming.  However, it's more distrubing, and more distressing, when we are treated badly by those whom we thought to be allies--or at least who previously seemed to be working on our behalf.

A friend of mine is having such an experience.  She went to an organization that is ostensibly dedicated to helping transgender people with various legal issues, including civil rights violations and access to health care.  In fact, that organization's founder litigated a case in which I had been involved, and was settled when the judge ordered the defendant to make contributions to LGBT organizations on behalf of me and the other plaintiffs in the lawsuit.  After that, I would volunteer for that organization, join their board of directors and write a guidebook, which they distributed in print and online, to help transgenders gain access to the health care we need.

That organization--the Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund--took over Lambda Legal's name-change project.  I used its free services and, even as a complete novice to the court system, I had no difficulty.  When TLDEF took it over, I thought it might be a good thing, as TLDEF is (or, at any rate, was) an organization centered on transgendered.  Plus, TLDEF's director, Michael Silverman is a first-rate lawyer. No less than the lawyers who opposed him, and a prosecutor, said as much.

In any event, my friend went to a TLDEF name-change clinic and was treated rudely, and with hostility.  Then the person who was supposed to help my friend instead invented a reason, called it TLDEF policy, and used it to keep my friend from using their services.

My friend, at least, is canny and persistent, although obviously upset with the treatment she received.  Now that this friend has found out that the rule that would have disqualfied her, had it existed, she is all the more upset, though still fighting.

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