In honor of Transgender Awareness Week, we’ve curated a list of three inspirational lawyers who are part of the transgender community.
“The fact of the matter is LGBT equality and liberation is essentially the liberation of all of society.”
Mia Yamamoto was born in a Japanese-American internment camp in Arizona during World War II. Her father was a lawyer who was excluded from the L.A. County Bar Association because of its standing as whites-only: a factor that would later encourage her to pursue a career in law.
Even though she was struggling with her gender identity, Mia would eventually enlist in the army and would go on to receive multiple awards for her service. After her time in the army, Mia enrolled at the UCLA’s School of Law.
After graduating law school, Mia Yamamoto opened her own criminal defense law practice and it was during this time that Mia began to transition. This would also lead to her becoming an activist for the transgender community.
According to Legal Talk Network, Mia “has been appointed by the Chief Justice of the California Supreme Court to serve on the California Judicial Council Task Forces on Jury Improvement and on Fairness and Access in the Courts.” In 1999, she presented a lecture for President Clinton’s Race and Criminal Justice initiative at George Washington University.
Mia Yamamoto has received various awards over the years, including the Spirit of Excellence award from the American Bar Association, the Trailblazer Award from the National Association of Asian Pacific American Bar Association, and the Rainbow Key Award from the City of West Hollywood.
Kylar W. Broadus
“I knew my transition would not be easy but it was a road worth taking. It has made me strong and resilient.”
Kylar W. Broadus was born on August 28, 1963 in Fayette, Missouri to parents who were children of slaves. He attended undergrad at Central Methodist University and later went to law school at the University of Missouri Columbia School of Law.
In 1995, Broadus announced his gender transition. Unfortunately, he faced discrimination and harassment at work because of this, and eventually faced a “constructive notice” discharge from his job. He has suffered PTSD from this harassment.
After 1995, Broadus worked in private practice and taught business law and workplace discrimination at Lincoln University. He also served as the state legislative manager and counsel for the Human Rights Campaign. According to the National Black Justice Coalition (NBJC), “In 2012, Broadus made history as the first openly transgender person to testify before the U.S. Senate, speaking in support of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) … He founded the Trans People of Color Coalition in 2010, a national organization dedicated to the needs of trans people of color.”
Broadus was awarded the Trans Trailblazer Award by the LGBT Bar Association of Los Angeles in 2019.
“I’ve used my body and my story in my work, and I hope the next generation may not have to.”
Strangio grew up in Boston, MA, and later attended law school at Northeastern University School of Law. He came out as a transgender man during his time in law school. He later obtained a fellowship with the Sylvia Rivera Law Project (SRLP) after graduating.
Strangio began work as a public defender after law school and also co-founded the Lorena Borjas Community Fund. According to The New Yorker, “He teamed up with Lorena Borjas, the unofficial den mother to transgender Latinx women in New York City, to start the bail fund for transgender immigrants, and he joined a working group of lawyers who were drafting recommendations for President Obama’s Department of Justice on the incarceration of trans people.”
Strangio started working for the ACLU in 2013 where he would serve as lead counsel representing transgender U.S. Army soldier, Chelsea Manning. Strangio has been named the ACLU’s most “most celebrated and popular lawyer.” He has been awarded the American Bar Association’s Commission on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity’s 2020 Stonewall Award, as well as being named one of Time Magazine’s most influential people in the world.