This June, DC and the nation recognize Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer (LGBTQ) Pride Month. Here at the DC Bar Foundation, it is also a time to remember the barriers to justice and legal aid facing the LGBTQ community.
LGBTQ youth make up 43% of the youth homeless population here in the District, vastly disproportionate to the 7% of youth who identify as LGBTQ overall. In America, 1 in 5 transgender persons are homeless or in unstable housing. LGBTQ workers, particularly those of color, are statistically likely to face on-the-job discrimination, lower wages, and job loss. American LGBTQ women are among the most at-risk populations for poverty, facing lower wages, restricted access to health care, harassment, and increased rates of violence. Almost 30% of bisexual women and 23% of lesbian women live in poverty; for heterosexual women, that number is only 21%. Older women, 65 and older, in same-sex coupes have nearly twice the poverty rate of older, married, opposite-sex couples.
While the District legislates protection against discrimination in housing and employment on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity, these are still not federally protected, putting the LGBTQ community at heightened risk for unemployment, homelessness, and poverty.
The legal aid funded by the DC Bar Foundation is at work every day to combat these issues, providing the legal help necessary to secure fair wages, access to health care, and fair housing. Thank you for continuing to partner with us to improve lives, protect families, and strengthen communities in DC.
Kirra L. Jarratt, Executive Director
Nearly 35 years ago, Whitman-Walker Health received its first grant from DCBF. Over the past three decades, the Foundation has supported Whitman-Walker Health as it has transformed into the most reputable medical and legal services organization for DC’s LGBTQ and low-income community. In honor of LGBTQ Pride Month, the DC Bar Foundation recognizes the outstanding work of Whitman-Walker Health. We are proud to fund attorneys who assist LGBTQ individuals with immigration and discrimination cases, as well as obtaining identity documents, ensuring access to justice for their clients.
In addition to providing significant support to Whitman-Walker Health’s Max Robinson Center in Southeast DC, the Foundation also supports its Name and Gender Change Clinic, a project that we have proudly supported for more than two years. We recognize the urgent legal needs of DC’s low-income, transgender community, of which 80% are people of color, 31% are infected with HIV, and 36% are unemployed.
One of Whitman-Walker Health’s transgender clients is a 42-year-old woman and activist who fled her home in Latin America because of the country’s violence towards transgender individuals. Whitman-Walker Health’s immigration attorneys assisted her with her asylum case, while attorneys at the Name and Gender Change Clinic helped prepare her name change petition documents. With the attorneys’ help, the client was able to obtain a work permit, social security number, and DC ID, and she is now employed with a non-profit organization, takes English classes, has married, and moved into an apartment with her spouse.
With the Foundation’s support, Whitman-Walker Health is able to provide free legal aid to more than 230 low-income and transgender DC residents each year, like the client above. In addition to funding, the Foundation provides legal training to their attorneys, many of whom also participate in our Loan Repayment Assistance Program – a prime example of how our grantees benefit from our 360-degree approach to grantmaking.
The Foundation’s Young Lawyers Network Leadership Council (YLN LC) has begun its annual recruitment efforts. YLN LC members serve as ambassadors in order to promote DCBF’s mission and programs and to help raise additional resources in support of DC legal aid providers. Click here to learn more and to download application materials. Application forms and supporting documentation must be submitted by 5 p.m. on Tuesday, August 8th.
On Thursday, July 27th, the YLN LC will host a happy hour for those interested in
learning more about the group. Click here to RSVP for the event.
Krisztina Szabo is a staff attorney with Whitman-Walker Health, an unwavering advocate of the LGBTQ community for nearly 40 years. June is LGBTQ Pride Month, and we would like to recognize Krisztina for her tireless work in providing free legal assistance to DC’s LGBTQ community. (You can also read about her organization, Whitman-Walker Health, in this month’s Grantee Spotlight.)
Whitman-Walker Health Legal Services
Years on the Job
Almost 3 years
Little known fact about your organization
Many of our Legal Services clients are not Whitman-Walker Health patients
Where did you grow up?
Hungary and South Carolina
What brought you to DC?
AU WCL’s Law & Government LLM program
What was your first job in DC, and what did you learn?
Staff Attorney at Ayuda, which confirmed that I love direct services work.
Cuddling with my cat, Sheldon.
Favorite Vacation Spot
Aruba or Paris
Anything sweet, especially macaroons
One Item from your Bucket List
Swimming with manatees
Travelling/travel planning and balcony gardening
Mom, clients, mentors, and Justice Sotomayor & RBG
Al Jazeera, MSNBC, WaPo, and NPR
One thing (other than your phone) you never leave the house without is…
Coffee and kindness
You get to paint a mural on the side of the White House. What do you paint?
The Constitution, in bold print
Biggest failure and what you learned
Overplanning can inhibit flexibility & creativity
Most rewarding element of your work
Seeing my clients thrive
List three main challenges you faced early on in your career
Fear of being wrong, time management, and overplanning
If I hadn’t become a lawyer, I would be a…
Teacher or a foreign service officer
If I weren’t working at Whitman-Walker, I would be…
Working at another legal services organization
Legal aid is important to me because . . .
It is a conduit for equity
Your dream for our legal system is…
A more diverse judiciary and law enforcement
The most pressing civil legal aid issue in DC is…
Access to public benefits and housing
Would you like to tell us about your role in DC’s legal aid community? Fill out our Partner Profile Survey and share your story in an upcoming newsletter.