Friday, October 1, 2021

This New York City litigator advocates for transgender rights and is teaching other lawyers how to do it, too

OCTOBER 1, 2021, 1:40 AM CDT

As corporate America continues to publicly display the rainbow motif to promote its recognition of LGBTQ rights, the phone hasn’t stopped ringing at Weiss Law. Founded by Jillian T. Weiss, the three-lawyer, Brooklyn-based firm specializes in enforcing the civil rights of transgender people, especially in the area of employment law—and the fight is far from over.

Luckily, Weiss is uniquely prepared to lead the charge: She co-authored Gender Identity and the Law, the first law school casebook on the subject. She also founded the National Trans Bar Association, and she served as executive director of the Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund. Weiss helped litigate the first cases brought by the EEOC and the Department of Justice on behalf of transgender employees and has drafted transgender-friendly workplace policies for major corporations like Boeing—all after spending more than a decade as a college professor (she holds a PhD in law, policy and society). For Weiss, the fight isn’t just professional; it’s also personal. Weiss transitioned to living as female in the late ’90s and has faced many of the same types of discrimination that her clients continue to endure today.

Q. Did you always want to be a lawyer—to be an advocate?

A. No, I actually wanted to be a teacher.

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