Dickinson Law students host transgender name change assistance pop-up clinic

February 13, 2020

Penn State Dickinson Law students recently held a Transgender Name Change Assistance Pop-up Clinic for members of Cumberland, Dauphin, Lancaster, Perry and York counties at Lewis Katz Hall, Dickinson Law, Carlisle. Designed to work with the transgender community, the clinic provided attendees guidance on the legal name change process. Dickinson Law students and local attorneys volunteered their services in the clinic.

The idea to host the clinic originated from members of Dickinson Law's OutLaw, a student organization devoted to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer identities and legal issues. OutLaw past-president Bob Gavin, 2020 pursued the idea in 2018-19, and the current executive board — led by President Jackie Gross, 2021, and Vice President Jake Younts, 2021 — completed the work necessary to launch the clinic.

"As the leaders of Dickinson Law’s OutLaw, we felt it was vital for us to reach out to the local queer community to learn where we can help,” said Gross. “After doing so, we found that there was a need to educate and help transgender people change their names. The community wanted us to provide a service that would help them navigate the at times byzantine name change process that transgender people can face.”

In order to serve the needs of clinic attendees, student volunteers participated in one of two trainings that focused both on the cultural competency skills needed to work with the transgender community and the legal processes for name changes in the surrounding counties. Attorneys volunteered pro bono to supervise students and support attendees.

“The practice of law increasingly requires our students to be prepared for a diverse client base with unique legal issues,” said Associate Dean for Academic and Student Services Jeffrey A. Dodge. “Participation in the Clinic advances the cultural competency skills needed to support the transgender community while also giving students the opportunity to help real people with unmet legal needs.”

Clinical Law Professor and Director of Dickinson Law’s Community Law Clinic Megan Riesmeyer supported the effort by providing critical guidance and legal experience to both the organizers and volunteers. Dodge, who shared that he is inspired by students’ efforts to serve this often marginalized community, provided administrative and logistical support as the advisor to OutLaw.

“The trans community faces a great deal of discrimination, and many are understandably afraid of taking public steps toward their identity,” said Younts. “The clinic gives us a way to connect with and support this community using the legal education we have been fortunate enough to receive."  

The next clinic is scheduled for 7 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 26, in room 120 at Dickinson Law, 150 S. College St., Carlisle, Pennsylvania. The clinic is free to attend. To register, email Jake Yountz at ajy66@psu.edu.

(Media Contacts)

Last Updated September 03, 2020