Legal Aid Society

Projects, Units & Initiatives

LGBTQ+ Law and Policy Unit

The LGBTQ+ Law and Policy Unit seeks to create, support, and sustain affirming and safer spaces, practices and policies for LGBTQ+ clients within the organization and throughout New York City and New York State. Unit staff provide trainings on sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression to Legal Aid Society staff and are active in City and State legislative and policy reform efforts, coalition building, and public education through Know Your Rights and other presentations.

The Unit also litigates issues that impact the lives of many LGBTQ+ New Yorkers. Whether it was the hard-fought victories to secure the right of transgender individuals, including youth, to receive Medicaid coverage for needed health treatments, or the ongoing fight to end police profiling of transgender women of color and the criminalization of LGBTQ+ identities, the LGBTQ+ Unit is ready to assist our clients in advancing liberation against state oppression. 

Learn more about our work here.

Fighting Injustice Against TGNCNBI People Involved in the Criminal Law System

Through close partnership with the Criminal Defense Practice and with the Prisoners’ Rights Project, the LGBTQ+ Unit advocates on behalf of incarcerated transgender, gender non-conforming, non-binary, and intersex New Yorkers who are fighting for safer housing and affirming medical care in the New York City jails and New York State prisons. As part of these efforts, the Unit is currently litigating against several employees of the New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision for subjecting a transgender man to an invasive and nonconsensual genital examination in violation of his rights under the Fourth, Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution. 

For information on your rights in prison and jail, click here


The LGBTQ+ Law and Policy Unit believes that community partnerships and community service organization coalitions are essential to the advancement of LGBTQ+ and racial equity.

The LGBTQ+ Law and Policy Unit has partnered with the Ali Forney Center to create a monthly name change clinic for LGBTQ+ homeless youth. Without a legal name change and a gender-affirming ID, a young person struggles to access life-saving benefits and is excluded from full participation in our city and community. Learn More.

The LGBTQ+ Unit is a member of The New York State Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Health and Human Services Network (The Network). The Network is a coalition of over 70 programs and organizations across New York State that work to improve health outcomes for all members of the LGBTQ+ community. Through our work with The Network we are connected to important NYC and NYS resources and service providers to better connect our clients to vital support.

The LGBTQ+ Unit is a member of the NYC LGBTQI / ATI Reentry Working Group, a coalition of advocates working to increase and expand crucial reentry supports specifically for justice-involved LGBTQI people in New York City. 

Mik Kinkead, a member of the LGBTQ+ Unit, participates on the New York City Task Force on Issues Faced by Transgender, Gender Non-Conforming, Non-Binary, and Intersex (TGNCNBI) People in Custody, a committee composed of TGNCBI leaders and advocates to address the ongoing crisis facing TGNCNBI people in the New York City jails. Read their report

The LGBTQ+ Unit is a member of the NYC Administration for Children’s Services LGBTQAI+ Advocates Council, a committee addressing issues impacting LGBTQ+ youth in foster care. 

In addition to external partnerships the LGBTQ+ Unit organizes and facilitates internal working groups to connect various staff at the Legal Aid Society. Through these working groups the Unit is able to identify and strategically address systemic issues impacting LGBTQ+ clients.