Shelby Nacino ’18

Hometown: Honolulu, HI
Education: UC Berkeley 2014
Affiliations: East Bay Community Law Center (Tenants’ Rights Workshop, Health & Welfare Unit, Community Economic Justice Clinic, co-founder of the Name and Gender Change Workshop), Policy Advocacy Clinic

My first summer I worked in EBCLC’s health and welfare unit. During that time we wanted to get the word out about services we had available for the transgender community. So that’s how the Name and Gender Change Workshop came about.

The workshop is a student-initiated legal services project, students run it under the supervision of one of the health attorneys at EBCLC. We host 2-3 workshops each semester where clients can come in and work with students to walk through the forms to obtain a court-order for a name and gender change.

EBCLC’s client population is low income folks and people who may not have stable housing. Someone who doesn’t have a place to live also probably doesn’t have reliable access to a computer or wi-fi. So they can’t necessarily do the research needed to complete the process. Another issue is that a lot of folks from marginalized communities have a valid fear around the law and legal processes in general, and this is true for a lot of transgender folks—especially those whose experiences with the justice system may have involved criminalization.

The whole point is to increase access to the legal system for people within a community that might not otherwise have access. The legal process for a name and gender change isn’t that complex, but for folks that experience discrimination at every turn, it really helps to have an advocate walk them through the process.

I’m applying for funding that would allow me to build on the Name and Gender Change Workshop and increase outreach and services we can provide to transgender folks—particularly low-income transgender people of color.