May 27, 2008
Recruiting Transgenders for Law School!
Mary and I are leaving for Florida again tomorrow, for 3 days. I was asked some months ago to speak before the Law School Admissions Council (LSAC) on the subject "Best Practices in Recruiting Transgender Law Students". LSAC is a nonprofit corporation whose members are more than 200 law schools in the United States and Canada and is best known for administering the Law School Admission Test (LSAT®). I am honored to share the stage with my friend Dean Spade, currently a Williams Institute Law Teaching Fellow at UCLA and Harvard Law Schools. In 2002, Dean founded the Sylvia Rivera Law Project (SRLP), a non-profit law collective that provides free legal services to transgender, intersex and gender non-conforming people who are low-income and/or people of color.
The LSAC has an annual meeting of Admissions Directors from all the law schools every year. This year, it will be held on Marco Island, in Florida. When I applied to law school, as an out transgender student, I was very uncertain how I would be received. But, as everyone knows, I was so committed to being out that I made my transgender status a central theme in my Personal Statement. And, of course, I got admitted. Now, this consortium of all the country's law schools wants my advice on how to bring more transgender students to law school (although I imagine that there will be some law school representatives, such as from Ave Maria Law School who will choose not to attend this session). How cool is that? I'm very excited.
In case you're wondering how they decided to ask me (I wondered), it turns out that they use the old-fashioned approach -- they did an internet search and stumbled across this blog. After reading my law school application's Personal Statement, and skimming the Law School related posts, they decided to approach me. I'm honored, truly.
Sep 20, 2007
Gender Identity or Expression at the University of Michigan
Well, after years of effort and pressure, it looks like the Regents of the University of Michigan will vote today to finally amend the University’s bylaws to prohibit discrimination on the basis of gender identity or expression (see President Mary Sue Coleman's motion here).
This is something I, and many other activists, have worked on for a long time. It was something that was first brought to the administration’s attention over 10 years ago by a friend of mine, Jim Toy and an ally our movement knows well, Sandra Cole. In 2004, the year I started law school here, the administration assigned to the Provost’s office the task of measuring the climate for the TBLG community on campus and making recommendations as to how best improve it. The task force was headed by another friend of mine and professor at the law school, Bruce Frier. The task force’s first recommendation, when its report was published later that year was that bylaw 14.06 be modified to prohibit discrimination on the basis of gender identity or expression. Although the University adopted many other of the recommendations, the Regents refused to adopt that first one.
Over the 3 years that I was in law school, I lobbied the Regents heavily for this change (including public speaking, marches and protests on campus, and private meetings with individual Regents). Today, they will finally vote on the amendment and I’m told it will pass. I was contacted by the Administration and asked to be present for the vote and to be prepared to make some remarks.
I know that, in the scheme of all that is going on around the country and the slow progress we are making, this isn’t a momentous occasion. Nevertheless, a lot of people worked to make this University a safe place for all people, regardless of their gender identity or how they express that identity. Today, we will take an important step in that direction, and I wanted to share it with you.
[UPDATE] The measure passed 5-2 (with the one missing Regent submitting a letter into the record indicating (eloquently, I might add) his strong endorsement of the amendment). It was a pleasure and an honor for me to be there for the vote. The Regents were all very gracious to me and many thanked me (and other activists present) personally.
May 05, 2007
Pardon the interruption to my hiatus, but I had to post this for all those who went through this with me:
Mar 01, 2007
... will have to be an unknown for another 3 f'ing months. 3 months!
Of course, you know that it’s impossible to know until you get official results – and they won’t be released for another 3 f'ing months. But, I think I did passing (not well, you understand, merely passing) on the essays. There were 15 questions, and I think I knocked it out of the park on 2 of them (9s or 10s out of a possible 10). I think I did 6-8 on another 9 or 10 questions and I think I really blew it (2 or 3) on another couple. That leaves a couple for which I’ve no idea. On balance, passing – if barely (you need an average of 6.7 to pass each question). The morning session of the multi-state was almost easy. I knew the law in a vast majority of the questions and only just flat-out guessed in maybe 10 or so (and, of course, my “knowing” of the law will be wrong in another 10 or more). Nevertheless, I think I did very well on the morning session (keep in mind that I also thought I did well on my practice exams). The afternoon session -- not so much. It was a bitch. I had to reduce the choices to two possible and then pick in many questions (I’ve no idea how many, maybe 20 or 25). There were more than a handful that I was simply clueless about and the rest I “knew”. So, again, I think passing – on balance. (My Girl says that I'm an expert on passing, so she's confident; what does she know?)
Now, my big challenge is to NOT worry about it or dwell on it for the next 3 f’ing MONTHS and just enjoy my time off. Today, a spa day. I will indulge myself in a facial and a pedicure and having my hair highlighted. Tomorrow, we're off to visit my brilliant youngest in Kentucky and then from there to see my ailing mom (don't get me started on that; my heart can't take anymore) and finally on the return trip a visit to the Girl's dad (she came out to him last week and told him she'd be bringing her partner to meet him -- woohoo!) and back again to my youngest to help her celebrate her 21st birthday. It will be a very packed 2 week road trip. Expect posting to be very light.
Feb 20, 2007
The Bar Exam -- 1 week
So, I've been studying for the bar exam the past 2 months. I am not a good studier, never have been. I need outside pressure to help focus me (see previous post about not being focused). So, I enrolled in two bar review courses -- Bar/Bri, which is now over and PMBR, which is just 3 days and began yesterday.
In Michigan, if you score a 150 on the Multistate portion of the exam, they will only give your essays (state-specific) a cursory look-over. Otherwise, you need a combined 135 to pass, with each weighted equally.
Yesterday, we had a practice MBE test. Oh. My. God. I suck. I scored a 99 -- that's only 50 points of the combined 135 needed to pass. They are trying to tell me that this test is intentionally much harder than the real test and that I should add 36 points to my score to arrive at an expected actual MBE score. I hope that's true. But, what really bothers me is that I thought I did MUCH better on the exam than I did. Obviously, I know the law a whole lot worse than I think I do. If this is all the better I can do after two months of concentrated studying (well, as concentrated as I ever get), I'm in deep shit.
Even if they are right about the MBE, this means that I will NOT score high enough to warrant the glance-over on my essays; they will be critically scored. If I suck on multiple choice (as the MBE is), I could be a vacuum cleaner on essays. I have not yet even looked at them. That's my study plan -- wait until the last minute and then panic (don't ask me how I managed to get through law school with a B+ GPA and still neither know the law nor how to study).
Damn. I am so very depressed about this right now. I know you don't want to hear me ranting about this triviality right now, but it is what is occupying my thoughts! SS said I'll do fine. That was before I took this particular practice test.
The good news -- it will all be over beginning one week from today (it's a two-day test, Tuesday and Wednesday of next week).
Feb 11, 2007
When I graduated from law school, my family (spouse, parents, siblings and children) all pitched in and bought me a magnificent leather briefcase, complete with my initials. One of the features about this case that I like the best is that it stands up and remains open while you place or extract your computer or papers. It is a true thing of beauty and I am so grateful for it. My old briefcase is black and the type that you have to lie on its side to open (not to mention that it's too small for my laptop). This will be so useful in my new career. Thank you, my family.
From my former employer came another -- and most unexpected -- remarkable gift. He sent me a sterling silver business-card case. Inset into the center of the lid (in a 14k gold setting) is an ancient coin featuring the Goddess Aequitas holding the scales of justice in one hand and a horn of plenty in the other. From her, we get the word "equity". My former boss said that because she was the goddess of equality he thought of me. Isn't that the sweetest thing to say? The case came with a certificate of authenticity saying that the coin was minted about the year 225. Makes it pretty old. It is stunningly beautiful. Thank you, my dear friend.
Feb 06, 2007
Can't type? -- Sue!
My Girl says this guy is an embarrassment to himself, to the Law School and to the profession. I cannot help but agree. All I can say is I hope he's representing himself. Jeez o'pete.
A Pennsylvania man is suing the University of Michigan Law School because it didn't make special accommodations for his admittedly poor typing skills.
Adrian Zachariasewycz graduated from the law school in 2004 with a "B'' average but says in his lawsuit that on certain exams he received "borderline failing grades'' because he couldn't type as much in the allotted time as other students.
Jan 24, 2007
Last Law School Post -- EVER
Today, I finally got my last law school grade. Get ready for this.
I got an A+.
This isn't my first A; indeed, I've managed to get a few in the past year, but this is my first -- and therefore only! -- A+. I imagine it doesn't take too much to figure out that the grade came in Catharine MacKinnon's Sex Equality class. It seems if I care about a subject I manage to do well in it. Problem is, the bar exam tests pretty lightly on the areas of law I care about.
What a cool way to end my law school career. My Girl and I are going to use this as a reason to celebrate and are going out to dinner tonight.
Jan 20, 2007
When I took Criminal Law, we learned about some of the theories of imprisonment and punishment. We learned that retribution and deterrence (individual and societal) were two of the main justifications (it's more complicated than that, but I won't go into an analysis of Utilitarianism and Retributivism here). I wrote back then about my reaction to rape as a crime as distinct from other crimes based, perhaps, upon my personal experience with it.
Recently, I've read a couple of stories about rape. One, which I read first at Feminist Law Professors, frankly turned my stomach (I also note that Women's Space/The Margins and Feminist Nation also reported it). It is a story about a man who kidnapped his wife, raped and tortured her to create a porn video (original story here).
ORLANDO - (AP) -- A man kidnapped his wife, raped and tortured her and then hung her from a tree to film a two-hour bondage porn video, authorities said Tuesday.
The 30-year-old man was charged with aggravated assault and battery, sexual battery, kidnapping and false imprisonment. He was being held in the Brevard County Jail Tuesday on a $3 million bond.
Do you know that there was a time -- very recently -- in this country when a man could not be convicted of rape if the victim was his spouse? Even now, the Model Penal Code says:
§ 213.1. Rape and Related Offenses.
(1) Rape. A male who has sexual intercourse with a female not his wife is guilty of rape if:
(a) he compels her to submit by force or by threat of imminent death, serious bodily injury, extreme pain or kidnapping, to be inflicted on anyone; or
(b) he has substantially impaired her power to appraise or control her conduct by administering or employing without her knowledge drugs, intoxicants or other means for the purpose of preventing resistance; or
(c) the female is unconscious; or
(d) the female is less than 10 years old.
Thank the feminist movement for bringing about positive change in that particular absurdity, although we obviously have far to go.
Then, last night, I came across this story where a San Antonio police officer was just convicted of rape of a transsexual woman. I first blogged about this crime last June, and updated the story in July.
According to testimony, Gutierrez left his patrol area and forced Bernal into his squad car at Zarzamora and Laredo streets. Testimony established that Gutierrez took Bernal to a dark and secluded area, where Bernal said the officer orally and anally raped her, and struck her in the face with his hand and on the leg with his police baton.
Although this former police officer was sentenced to 24 years in prison (the minimum the judge could give under the sentencing guidelines) I disapprove of the punishment.
My first reaction was to say "YES! The bastard got what he deserved." And, so, perhaps he has. If so, is this "just deserts"? Does this satisfy our need -- and the victim's need -- for retribution? What about the deterrence aspect of punishment? Surely, spending the next 24 years in prison will deter this criminal, but what about other potential rapists (and maybe even this won't deter him -- who's to say he won't rape again while in prison)? The studies that I recall from my first year criminal law class suggest that imprisonment actually does a poor job of societal deterrence.
Back in my earlier post, I suggested castration. I still believe it's a better alternative. Maybe we could offer the convicted a choice: 10 years in prison plus castration, or life in prison. Of course, I suspect that -- as long as we have 8 men and only 1 woman deciding what is cruel and unusual -- such a plan would be struck down as unconstitutional (note that I think it might also be stricken as unconstitutional on other grounds (thinking back to the forced sterilization of women in this country in the past century)).
I am sick not only that these women were brutalized by these men, although I certainly am. I am reminded again that women hold an inferior position in society to men. These men exercised their power over these women. These men who supposedly held positions of trust -- a husband and a police officer.
We need to find alternatives to our criminal justice system. In the meantime -- lock them up and castrate them!
Jan 09, 2007
As I've mentioned before, I'm into studying for the upcoming quiz. To do so, I've enrolled in the local Bar/Bri course. Most of you law students and recent grads probably already know this, but this is a LOT of work!
I have no doubt that, if you did everything that Bar/Bri suggests you do, you'd be very, very well prepared to take the exam. But, it's impossible! You'd need to commit 10-12 hours a day to do all this. I'm not doing it. I'll read as much as I can, and I'll attend all the lectures and I'll take as many sample exams as I can manage, but that's it.
Today and yesterday are two really challenging days. I'm having to double up on my preparation and class attendance. My Girl is having surgery on Wednesday. It's major surgery under general anesthesia that will keep her hospitalized for 3 days or so. Consequently, I'm taking Wednesday and Thursday off to be with her in the hospital. That results in my having to take those class sessions early. Phew! And, I thought I didn't have time to keep up before.
Dec 22, 2006
20 years after completing my MBA, I finally received my JD yesterday. The ceremony was grand (despite the fact that the woman who hooded me put my hood on upside down and so all my post grad pictures look really stupid) and the speeches were both blessedly brief and laced with comedy. The whole thing lasted about 90 minutes.
I think the feature that I liked the most was how intimate the whole affair was. With just 87 of us walking, it doesn't compare to the 300+ that will walk in May. But, what it gave us was the chance to just be 'us' again -- the summer starter sections of 2004. I knew something about every person that walked across the stage (OK, there were a couple of people I didn't know). I saw some classmates that I hadn't seen since that first year. It was great.
Congratulations to the December 2006 graduating class of the University of Michigan Law School. It's been a privilege.
Dec 08, 2006
I took the Multistate Professional Responsibility Exam (MPRE) last month. It was a HARD exam, much harder than I anticipated. I was pretty sure there was a fair chance that I failed it.
I just got the scores back last night, and I passed -- with plenty of room to spare (indeed, I passed with a high enough score that I would be admitted in every jurisdiction -- with room to spare)! Yay!!!
Dec 06, 2006
I attended my final law school class this morning. It was unremarkable, except that when everyone clapped at the end, I just internalized it as if they were clapping for me. :-)
I blogged about my first ever law school class, here, and here, and I've reported every class I've taken since then. I can't imagine that it's been stimulating reading for anyone except my mother, but it's been a nice journal of the experience for me.
I have one exam left to take. And. I'm. Done.
Dec 05, 2006
A tremendous honor
In a completely unexpected email, Catharine MacKinnon just asked me if I would consider working for her for a few weeks next month to help integrate the topic of transsexuality into the second edition of her highly regarded textbook, Sex Equality.
I am totally honored that she would ask me and, of course, I will do so. Her text is so widely used that bringing the issue of transgenderism into it in a meaningful way has the great potential to influence the learning of many feminist minded students.
Dec 01, 2006
3 weeks and counting
Monday begins my final week in law school. Not just my final week of this semester. After next Wednesday, I will never again attend a law school class. I will have one final exam 8 days later and then, on the 21st of December I will graduate. Graduate.
I am in disbelief. I came to law school not really knowing what to expect. I did not know if I would fit in, or indeed if it was important or not to fit in. I didn't know if my age would be a factor, or if my transgenderism would be. I didn't know what kind of a student I would be. I knew what kind I had been, but I had hopes of improving upon that model. I never did. I still wound up as a mediocre law student; I will graduate in the middle of the class, I suspect -- with a little better than a B average.
I made lots of great friends in law school. I also had a lot of fun. After the first year, I took only classes that genuinely interested me (at least those that I thought did -- two of them turned out to be not so great). I learned much.
The next step, of course, is the Bar Exam. I'm sitting here in Michigan. I've spent the past few weeks trying to put together my application. For those of you "traditional" students who complain about the process, let me just say you had it easy! :) At nearly 52 years old, and with a life lived on full throttle, completing my application was a Herculean task; the final application ended up being nearly 2 full inches thick. I hope they let me in! :)
Anyway, my final week of law school is upon me. Nearly 3 years have passed since I started this blog at the beginning of school. It has another 3 weeks left of life -- assuming I can actually bring myself to post in that time. Thank you all for reading.