Nearly six years after our pro bono client first filed his asylum application, United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) finally granted him asylum in the United States. Our client is a gay man living with HIV who fled Uzbekistan because he had suffered anti-gay violence and feared he would
On June 24, 2021, the Governor of New York signed into law the Gender Recognition Act, and Proskauer employees came together in celebration of LGBTQ+ Pride Month to support transgender equality and inclusion in all areas of public life.
With special guest speakers Chris Mosier of Transathlete.com and Sasha Buchert of Lambda Legal, Proskauer associate Ren Morris and Craig Convissar of The LGBT Bar Association of Greater New York (LeGaL) led a conversation about the recent wave of state-level anti-transgender legislation, much of which has targeted transgender youth.
In 2014, I had the privilege of representing two extraordinary young asylum seekers who had fled from Macedonia, where, because they are a gay couple, they had suffered extreme homophobic violence and sexual abuse at the hands of civilians and police officers. In 2021, I had the honor of helping them become U.S. citizens.
In reflecting on my clients’ seven-year journey to United States citizenship, I am reminded of how much has changed, but also how much has unfortunately remained the same and how far we have yet to go in the pursuit of LGBTQ human rights both at home and abroad.
The first of my two Macedonian clients arrived in the U.S. in 2012, and the second client joined him here in May 2013, just one month before the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark decision in United States v. Windsor, 570 U.S. 744 (2013). In Windsor, the U.S. Supreme Court declared unconstitutional Section 3 of the federal Defense of Marriage Act (“DOMA”), through which Congress had sought to define “marriage” and “spouse” in more than 1,000 federal laws and federal regulations in a way that excluded same-sex spouses, thereby depriving them of the benefits that would come with federal recognition of their marriages and imposing “a disadvantage, a separate status, and so a stigma upon all who enter same-sex marriages.” Id. at 770. The Supreme Court found that DOMA deprived gay and lesbian married couples of equal liberty under the Fifth Amendment because it interfered with the equal dignity of marriages under State laws recognizing marriage between same-sex spouses.
For many transgender people, undergoing gender-affirming surgery is a crucial step toward a healthy gender transition. While not all transgender people need or want gender-affirming surgeries to be part of their transitions, receiving such surgeries may be life saving for some who do.
The American Medical Association has established that gender-affirming surgery is effective and medically necessary for many individuals diagnosed with gender dysphoria. Gender dysphoria is a serious medical condition resulting from an incongruence between one’s experienced or expressed gender and one’s gender assigned at birth. The symptoms of gender dysphoria can include distress, depression and suicidality.
Surveys show that 41 percent of transgender Americans report having attempted suicide, and there is a clear link between these high rates and the lack of transition-related health care coverage.