students in lounge

In March of 2021, the interns of our Free Legal Clinic Team led the clinic’s most successful Transgender Name and Gender Marker Change Clinic to date. This specialty legal clinic facilitated connections between trans-affirming attorneys and transgender people looking for assistance in handling legal matters such as name and/or gender marker changes.

The Legal Clinic team was pleased to offer this specialty clinic this year being unable to host is in the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic last year. This year, as with all of the team’s regular semi-montly legal clnics, it was completely virtual and conducted over Zoom with attorneys and their clients comfortable in their own homes, discussing the name-change process and screen-sharing documents in their breakout rooms.

The attorneys volunteering at this clinic were from all over the state of Virginia. The majority of the lawyers were associated with the Virginia Equality Bar Association, an organization that seeks to secure equality for the LGBTQ community through legal education, resources, and information.

To get the word out about the Transgender Name and Gender Marker Change Free Legal Clinic, the Legal Clinic team forged key partnerships with the LGBTQ+ Center at UVA, the Queer Student Union at UVA, Cville Pride, Legal Services Northern Virginia, and Equality Virginia. Interns also reached out to over thirty different marketing partners to share flyers and intake information with their offices, social media pages, and email lists.

Over the course of one evening, the clinic served sixteen clients each having consultations of an hour or more with one of the nine volunteer attorneys. After completing their appointment, one client had the following to say:

“The attorney was extremely knowledgeable and considerate. Got me squared away and set on the path to accomplishing my name change. It was great to know that this is something people do all the time, and I am not completely unique in this process. Grateful that the Women’s Center set this up and invited anyone that was interested.”

Throughout the clinic, the two Legal Clinic interns who ran this event, Alyssa Candelmo and Sydney Pulliam, fielded technical and general questions in the main Zoom session and, if needed, connected clients with counseling services. Another client who attended with their son said, “We feel supported and respected in our process to advocate for our child, and the staff at the clinic have been an excellent resource.” By the end of the clinic, Alyssa and Sydney felt the reward of their work as clients and attorneys expressed their gratitude for this year’s clinic before signing off. 

This clinic is an event that will continue to take place annually in line with the LGBTQ+ Center’s Pride Week in March. Intern Sydney Pulliam, who will return as the Senior Intern during the 2021-2022 academic year, is excited about the success of the clinic and the opportunities it will continue to provide for community members in the future. She says, “While it was a lot of work, this clinic was extremely fruitful and motivates me to continue my path towards helping people in the legal field. It was so inspiring to see clients from age 10 to age 64 all ready to figure out how to change their legal names and pronouns in order to become the person they were truly meant to be.”