To our NTBA Community:

What a whirlwind of connection and community. Lavender Law. The Trans Law Institute. Then the NTBA Social.

It is hard to sufficiently express our gratitude for this community and its dedicated members, including those NTBA board members, TLI Committee members, volunteers, and speakers who made this happen.

Even while discussing the heavy events of this past year, in our collective presence we found ourselves buoyed. Community and gender euphoria overcame a significant amount of the stresses of 2023, at least for that moment.

As noted in the previous newsletter and in the agenda, TLI consisted of three events themed Survive, Thrive, and Strive. Each was a success.

During the Survive panel, Alejandra Caraballo explained this year’s anti-trans legislation but concluded that painful litany with a reminder that our community has faced these challenges before and that, though the immediate future looks challenging, the longer-term future remains hopeful. Delegate Danica Roem articulated her own successes in promoting legislation to protect the trans community and set forth an agenda for continuing to do so. Next, Professor (and NTBA Board Member) Alex Chen began laying out an important vision for the work we need to do in the coming months. His vision confronted some of the limitations of our legal training and reemphasized our ability to collaborate with and defend the broader activist community. Finally, these three panelists and myself (Rafael Langer-Osuna) lead four breakout groups wherein the community present formulated four different pieces of a strategy for weathering this storm. The NTBA board looks forward to following up with you all on implementing these matters.

After directly confronting these challenging issues, Andy Izenson led the group in a meditation for the Thrive portion of TLI. Despite being slightly behind schedule, we decided that it was essential not to shortchange ourselves on this self-care. Tears were shed and some healing occurred (Rafael speaking, at a minimum, for themselves).

Lastly, TLI concluded with the Strive panel on the social determinants of health for trans folks. This panel, moderated by TLI Committee member Seran Gee, led the community through a discussion of the other factors, shaped by policy and law both, that impact our community. Our own D Dangaran spoke about incarceration as a social determinant of health, alongside other factors such as housing, employment opportunities, and access to state resources as discussed by Elana Redfield of the Williams Institute and Daniella Carter – LGBTQ advocate, star of the recent award-winning documentary

Kokomo City, and producer at Daniella’s Guestbook.

These panelists laid bare the work that our community needs to do beyond confronting the attacks leveled against us during 2023. Our BIPOC community members disproportionately bear these burdens.  Regrettably, the anti-trans legislation of 2023 has only exacerbated these issues. Even now as we write this people continue to target Black trans women, using biological gatekeeping (and other such nonsense) to contest their very existence, while we attempt to fight recently passed anti-trans legislation in the courts.

This is why moments in community are so powerful.

And that is precisely what the NTBA Social, hosted at Center on Halsted, afforded us. As the conclusion to TLI and Lavender Law for our community, we gathered together to eat and drink and speak with each other. We watched a drag performance by Ari Jones (aka Pop Rox the Human) and heard about their work organizing events for the Fight to Legalize Drag to support those on the ground in Tennessee and Texas. And most importantly we relaxed and connected. And we cried and we smiled. I know many of us left that room feeling reinforced, if not made whole. Many of us felt more connected; others felt better supported.  Most important, we each came away with renewed energy and commitment to support our community – especially those who need the most support.

We thank the National LGBTQ Bar Association for providing us this space – when they put in the work to make Lavender Law happen it creates a critical mass of people and a logistical base in which we can situate our community building. We also thank Baker Botts, Sheppard Mullin, and Squire Patton Boggs for providing funding to add the voices of powerful speakers, such as Daniella Carter, who might not otherwise be able to join us. And as sponsors of the NTBA Social, we also thank these firms for allowing us to reconvene as a community in a space dedicating to nothing other than building connections and building power in our community.

As an additional reminder, please join us for the August 10 Members’ Meeting where we both look forward to seeing those who could not join us in person at Lavender Law and to hearing from any who have thoughts on how we might make TLI 2024 even more powerful.

We will continue to build our community. Together we will continue to support each other’s work to defend our community in one way or another.

In solidarity,

D Dangaran and Rafael Langer-Osuna,
Co-Chairs for the NTBA Board