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Free Legal Help Available for Transgender Nevadans, Post-Election

Attorneys with Nevada Legal Services are offering free legal help to transgender people who worry about post-election discrimination. (serggn/iStockphoto)
Attorneys with Nevada Legal Services are offering free legal help to transgender people who worry about post-election discrimination. (serggn/iStockphoto)
November 29, 2016

LAS VEGAS – Legal advocates in Nevada are offering free help to transgender people who want to change their name and gender marker before the new administration takes office. Nevada Legal Services said they've received a major uptick of calls since the election from people who say they're concerned that legal protections that transgender people currently enjoy in the Silver State may come under attack.

Kris Bergstrom, directing attorney for Nevada Legal Services' Las Vegas office, said for many transgender people, a name change can be anything but simple.

"A lot of them live below the poverty level, so they can't afford a lawyer to represent them," she said. "They may have been kicked out of their home, and so they might not have access to their original documents. They may have been using a different name informally for years, so their documentation will have many different names on it, which can make it a little more difficult to change their name."

Getting a job, in particular, can be difficult if your name doesn't match your Social Security card. The free legal help is available in Las Vegas and Reno. More information is online at NLSLaw.net.

Bergstrom said many in the LGBTQ community became alarmed when the Obama Justice Department had to sue to stop the state of North Carolina from nullifying a nondiscrimination law in the city of Charlotte.

Nevada is one of about 20 states that prohibit discrimination against transgender people in housing, employment and public accommodations.

"When we say 'public accommodations' in Nevada, that includes the right to use the bathroom that best matches your gender," she added. "And so, I think people are worried that if some sort of federal law passes, that it might nullify Nevada's law."

There are 1.4 million American adults who identify as transgender. A national website, translawhelp.org, provides a list by state of attorneys who offer pro-bono help to transgender people.

Suzanne Potter, Public News Service - NV