Trans law help for a lawyer
November 11, 2016 6:15 AM   Subscribe

Hi MeFi! I am a queer lawyer with a lot of trans friends. I am getting bombarded with questions from my community about what the Trump presidency is going to mean for the LGBT community generally, and questions about how to handle trans legal matters specifically. The problem? This isn't my area of practice. Help help, more details below the fold.

I am getting hit with questions from people all over the country. I want to be able to help and to point people to resources. A lot of things are fairly common sense - get your ID, get your name change taken care of, get your birth certificate updated if you can. There are a lot of things I don't know about, and of course I don't know what I don't know. My field of law is not helpful for most questions as I work with disabled veterans.

I am looking for any guidance people can give me to help me guide people through this, and any information about what is likely to happen to us once Trump takes office. I'm interested in a lot of issues and how they intersect, so let me make a list.

Issues for people in same-sex relationships: I understand that getting married soon is a good idea, and getting other documents in order such as powers of attorney, healthcare directives, etc. What else?

In discussing issues with people, I'm not entirely clear on what Trump can do to overturn marriage equality at this point, since right now we only have one Supreme Court vacancy and it's for Scalia's spot. To my reckoning, we still have Ginsburg, Breyer, Kagan, Sotomayor, and Kennedy. Kennedy is too often the swing vote on many issues, but he's been very solid on LGBT issues. Also, I know that there would have to be an actual legal case that gets to the court and that the court decides to hear. What else should I be thinking about?

Trans issues: name changes, birth certificate updates, what else? Does anyone have a basic resource for me on what to do here?

I have run into a number of LGBT people who are afraid of having their marriages annulled and/or their children taken away. My understanding is that this is not terribly likely, because family law is handled by the states. In practical terms here, what should I tell people other than to make sure they have paperwork set up that says explicitly who is to take custody of their kids if something happens to them?

Healthcare issues: I assume we are looking at the end of the ACA and MediCare, which is going to mean very bad things for a large number of people, including a lot of people losing access to care and also the return of pre-existing condition rules. I'm also assuming that funding for HIV-related issues is about to be dropped, since Pence has a history of wanting to use that money on conversion therapy. Does anyone have a basic rundown on this?

Immigration: I know this is about to be an even bigger nightmare than it already is. I am interested in what issues I should know about that specifically impact LGBT people.

Finally, I am running into a lot of people who are afraid they will forcibly be sent to conversion therapy and I have no idea how to approach that from a legal perspective - to me the best comparison is Korematsu, but laws impacting LGBT folks don't get the same level of scrutiny.

If there is anything else I should know in general, or any good groups or resources in the Twin Cities area, please drop me a line.
posted by bile and syntax to Law & Government (8 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: If you're not already familiar with the Transgender Law Center, it might be a good place to start.
posted by EvaDestruction at 6:47 AM on November 11, 2016 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Live Blog: Post-Election Q&A (Lambda Legal)
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 6:48 AM on November 11, 2016 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Yes to TLC. Also the National Center for Lesbian Rights.
posted by gingerbeer at 8:58 AM on November 11, 2016 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Am told the pre-existing conditions portion of the ACA would take a 60-person Senate vote to repeal, and the Republicans don't have that much majority. The ACA can't be instantly revoked without throwing the insurance companies' finances into utter chaos--yeah, they'd love to stop offering insurance to all those people with MS and diabetes, but they don't want to lose all those kid-with-sprained-ankle once-a-year folks who are paying for more than they're getting. Revoking without changes would mean they lose ALL their customers, and they don't want that. So, it'll take time.

Mostly, tell them don't panic, but work to get things done. Repealing complex laws, despite the president-elect's babble during campaign season, is not done with a stroke of the pen - each department that is affected has to be negotiated with (even if that's "here's what's gonna happen") and the text of the replacement law needs to be created - and while he may want to just strike out all the text, we don't make laws like that; they're folded into the existing legal structure. (You know this; they may not realize that there is no "Affordable Care Act" section of the IRS code; the act just changed the text of some parts of the IRS code to comply with the ACA. Repealing it involves slogging through all the portions of legal code that were affected and re-writing those sections.)

So: They have more breathing room than they may realize. Yes, the new administration is going to do their damnedest to repeal every gain made by people who aren't straight white cis males over the last century... but they can't do so instantly. Lists are being made of what's likely to be hit first, and "invalidate marriages" is way, WAY down on that list - we have a lot of laws tangled up with marriages.

A whole lot will be repealing federal protections and allowing the states to re-authorize discrimination and oppression - which is terrible, but again, slow.

However, labeling groups "terrorists" is not; someone on Twitter pointed out that she expects the #BlackLivesMatter movement to be formally labeled a "terrorist group." Expect similar things to happen with other liberal activist groups. Tell them that it's very important to find ways to connect socially that aren't under surveillance; get some encryption software; make webs of contacts that can't be broken because a single person got arrested.
posted by ErisLordFreedom at 9:34 AM on November 11, 2016 [2 favorites]

Best answer: There seems to be a lot of good stuff going on under the twitter hashtag #translawhelp.
posted by emilyw at 12:09 PM on November 11, 2016 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Lambda Legal has a post election FAQ up now also and they also answer questions via a legal help desk.
posted by jessamyn at 2:38 PM on November 11, 2016 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Yes, the new administration is going to do their damnedest to repeal every gain made by people who aren't straight white cis males over the last century... but they can't do so instantly.

A lot of people are unclear on what is federal law, what is federal policy and what is state law/policy. However, most, if not all, of the gains made by trans people at the federal level during the Obama administration (the HHS rule on insurance exclusions, passport gender markers, Social Security gender markers, Social Security no match letters...) were policy decisions and therefore are vulnerable in the short term. (I'm assuming EEOC rulings are a little more solid just because you need a case to rule on to overturn something, but I think that's basically the other big one. Trans people in the military is something of a wildcard.)
posted by hoyland at 3:55 PM on November 11, 2016 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: Thanks so much, everyone! I'm now trying to get through all the reading, but I am much better equipped to tackle this.
posted by bile and syntax at 3:26 PM on November 15, 2016

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