Press

NGLTF To Host Transgender Law Fellowship

Date: 
April 25, 2001

Program Is Believed To Be Nation's First

The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force will be home to what is believed to be the nation's first legal fellowship specifically aimed at addressing discrimination against transgender people, thanks to a grant awarded earlier this year by the National Association for Public Interest Law (NAPIL).

Lisa Mottet, a former NGLTF legal intern graduating with honors from Georgetown University Law Center in May, will work as an Equal Justice Fellow for two years on a project designed to ensure that existing and future laws result in equal treatment in employment, education, housing and public accommodations for transgender people.

"We will be free as a community only when everyone in the community - whether gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender - is a fully valued and welcome member," said NGLTF Political Director Tim McFeeley. "This fellowship represents NGLTF's commitment to that goal and we are very excited to continue our work to make sure no one is left behind in our progressive movement for equal justice."

The Transgender Civil Rights Project's goals are to amend civil rights laws, both local and federal, to include transgender people and to ensure that current sex discrimination laws are interpreted to protect transgender people. "This Project begins with the expectation that in a free society an individual's gender identity and gender expression should be a matter of free choice," Mottet said. "The enactment and interpretation of law should reflect this ideal."

Mottet's work will be an integral component of NGLTF's State Legislative Lawyer Project, which provides critical legal analysis and legislative strategy advice to state and local activists on legislative issues facing the GLBT community.

"State and local activists need legal assistance in drafting and advocating for transgender-inclusive bills and ordinances," Mottet said. "NGLTF is the ideal organization to house this project because of its extensive organizing efforts at the state and local level and commitment to transgender equality."

Before coming to Georgetown Law Center, Mottet served on the board of directors of Equality Washington as an active member of the group's legislative committee. Lisa also served on the "Yes on 677" Campaign Committee, overseeing fundraising and managing campaign efforts on a 1997 statewide initiative to ban employment discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. For the past two years, she has been a legal research assistant to Chai Feldblum, professor of law and director of the Federal Legislation Clinic at Georgetown University Law Center, who will serve as an advisor to the Transgender Civil Rights Project.

"The Transgender Civil Rights Project has the potential to significantly advance the transgender movement in the United States," said Marsha Botzer, a member of the NGLTF Board of Directors and an activist on transgender issues. "This project can provide the movement with technical, legal and strategic help from a national organization that is well-grounded on how to write effective legislation that will withstand the scrutiny of both the courts and of those who oppose our campaign for civil rights."

The Transgender Civil Rights Project is one of 75 NAPIL Fellowships for Equal Justice scheduled to begin in September 2001.

During the past ten years, NAPIL has funded 265 (plus the 75 beginning this fall)legal fellowships for lawyers to address and remedy civil injustices. Of those, seven of the fellowships have served the GLBT community, but Mottet's is NAPIL's first fellowship with an exclusively transgender focus.

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The mission of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force is to build the political power of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community from the ground up. We do this by training activists, organizing broad-based campaigns to defeat anti-LGBT referenda and advance pro-LGBT legislation, and by building the organizational capacity of our movement. Our Policy Institute, the movement’s premier think tank, provides research and policy analysis to support the struggle for complete equality and to counter right-wing lies. As part of a broader social justice movement, we work to create a nation that respects the diversity of human expression and identity and creates opportunity for all. Headquartered in Washington, D.C., we also have offices in New York City, Los Angeles, Miami, Minneapolis and Cambridge.