Thursday, February 11, 2010

"The Forgotten T"- WNEC Law Alumnus M. Dru Levasseur in ABA Journal

Below is an excerpt from an article in the most recent edition of the ABA Journal. WNEC Law alumnus M. Dru Levasseur talks about his transition during law school and the hiring process after graduation. The full article is called "Just Like Everyone. Inclusiveness efforts seek to make GLBT lawyers—and all others—feel at home." and it can be accessed here.
The Forgotten T

The T in GLBT represents transgender individuals, a minority within the minority facing a kind of discrimination and disrespect that few, even within the gay and lesbian community, have considered.
M. Dru Levasseur faced challenges few other students encounter when he transitioned during law school. “People met me as female and under a different name,” says the 2006 graduate of Western New England College School of Law, “and there was no way for me to have a different way to come out.”
One of Levasseur’s biggest challenges was how to address his gender identity during the hiring process.

“A lot of my jobs outed me, so I said on my cover letter that I was a transgender attorney,” he says. “During an interview, one person asked, ‘Do you really think it’s a good idea to tell people you’re a transgender attorney?’ I said, ‘Yes, I do. In fact, I think it’s a strength that I’ve gone through the challenge of transitioning, and I’m still a great attorney and have achieved in spite of all the extra stress.” He got a job offer there.

Levasseur also faced outright discrimination. “I was on a second interview [at a Northeastern office of a national firm], and the partner asked, ‘What’s transgender?’ ” he recounts. “I started telling him, and he interrupted and said, ‘There are no gay people at the firm. If you wanted to start a gay group, you’d be the only one in it.’ ”

Levasseur, now a staff attorney at the Transgender Legal Defense & Education Fund in New York City, believes his candor about being a transgender attorney dented his job prospects. “I felt like my choice to be an out transgender attorney limited my options,” he says. “Diversity is coming around and it’s a hot topic, but being a transgender attorney is still an issue.”

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