In the Harvard LGBTQ+ Advocacy Clinic (the “Clinic”), students work on cutting-edge issues involving LGBTQ+ rights, with a particular emphasis on issues affecting underrepresented communities within the LGBTQ+ community. Clinic offerings include local and national projects covering the spectrum of LGBTQ+ issues. Students will have the opportunity to engage in a range of work encompassing various strategies for advancing LGBTQ+ rights, including impact litigation and legislative and policy advocacy on behalf of LGBTQ+ clients.
The Clinic’s impact cases include Amaya Cruz v. Miami-Dade County, a federal suit on behalf of three trans young people arrested while participating in Black Lives Matter protests and subjected to degrading treatment while jailed; Hersom v. Crouch, a constitutional challenge to West Virginia’s refusal to change trans people’s birth certificate gender markers; and Lopez v. NYC Department of Homeless Services, a settlement that secured landmark reforms in the New York City shelter system for trans and gender nonconforming residents.
The Clinic’s amicus practice includes briefs challenging the Department of Health and Human Services’ attempt to rescind non-discrimination protections in the Affordable Care Act, and on behalf of senior former corrections officials attesting to the high risk of sexual assault experienced by transgender women in prisons
The Clinic’s regulatory work includes a published white paper on federal agency enforcement of sex-discrimination protections on behalf of nonbinary people, as well as a regulatory comment opposing the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s attempt to allow temporary and emergency shelters to discriminate against transgender and gender nonconforming people by denying them access to single-sex shelters consistent with their gender identity. The Clinic is also engaged in boundary-pushing work in the legislative and policy realms, including in the areas of intersex and polyamory advocacy.
The Clinic is housed within the WilmerHale Legal Services Center (LSC), a general practice community law office in Jamaica Plain. LSC’s diverse clinics provide clinical instruction to second- and third-year law students and serve as a laboratory for the innovative delivery of legal services. Students are taught and mentored under the supervision and guidance of a clinical instructor in one of LSC’s clinical practices.
How to Register
The LGBTQ+ Advocacy Clinic is offered in the Fall and Spring semesters. You can learn about the required clinical course component, clinical credits and the clinical registration process by reading the course catalog description and exploring the links in this section.
Meet the Instructors
Founding Director; Clinical Instructor; Lecturer on Law
Alexander Chen is the Founding Director of the Harvard Law School LGBTQ+ Advocacy Clinic. Alexander’s work focuses on expanding the rights of LGBTQ+ people through impact litigation, policy advocacy, and direct representation at both the national and local levels. Previously, Alexander worked at the National Center for Lesbian Rights, one of the nation’s leading LGBTQ+ advocacy organizations. At NCLR, Alexander engaged in LGBTQ+ impact litigation and policy advocacy in education, employment, health care, housing, prisons, and juvenile justice and child welfare settings. Alexander was a member of the litigation team in the transgender military cases Doe v. Trump and Stockman v. Trump, as well as the landmark Ninth Circuit transgender prisoner surgery access case Edmo v. Corizon. He also co-drafted AB 2119, a bill that made California the first state to guarantee access to transition-related health care for trans youth in foster care. He is also a co-founder of the National Trans Bar Association. Alexander received his B.A. from Oxford University, his M.A. from Columbia University, and his J.D. from Harvard Law School, where he was the first openly transgender editor of the Harvard Law Review and worked on trans issues at the Department of Justice, the ACLU LGBT & HIV Project, and the National Center for Transgender Equality. He clerked on the Ninth Circuit for the Hon. M. Margaret McKeown, and in the Southern District of California for the Hon. Gonzalo P. Curiel.
Anya A. Marino (she/her) instructs Harvard Law School’s LGBTQ+ Advocacy Clinic. Through litigation, education, and other advocacy methods she advances LGBTQ+ rights and justice for other marginalized communities. Previously, Anya was the Deputy Legal Director for the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Florida, where she oversaw the ACLU of Florida’s voting rights litigation and litigated LGBTQ+ and First Amendment cases. Anya was an integral member of the ACLU’s litigation team challenging legislative and executive efforts to undermine Florida’s 2018 Voting Restoration Amendment, which endeavored to restore voting rights to approximately 1.4 million people with previous felony convictions. She led the ACLU of Florida’s ongoing participation in Claire v. Florida Department of Management Services and represented three transgender state employees categorically denied medically necessary gender-affirming care by the State of Florida. Additionally, she led the ACLU of Florida’s ongoing litigation in The Dream Defenders v. DeSantis, which seeks to invalidate the governor and legislature’s 2021 racially motivated anti-protest act. Anya remains the first openly transgender woman of color to serve in any senior legal position throughout the ACLU’s federation of national and affiliate offices. Anya graduated from the University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law, and she received her Bachelor of Arts degree in anthropology from The Johns Hopkins University. Anya is admitted to practice in Maryland, the District of Columbia, and Florida.
In the News
LGBTQ+ Advocacy Clinic: Fighting for Privacy, Fighting for Dignity
By Olivia Klein, Harvard Law School Office of Clinical Programs A transgender individual heads to their local DMV for a standard appointment – a registration renewal or driver’s license issuance. Just like the person at the … LGBTQ+ Advocacy Clinic: Fighting for Privacy, Fighting for Dignity Read More » The post LGBTQ+ Advocacy Clinic: Fighting […]
April 6, 2022
Limiting Lessons: An Interview with LGBTQ+ Advocacy Clinic Director on Florida’s Parental Rights in Education Bill
Alexander Chen of Harvard Law’s LGBTQ+ Advocacy Clinic says Florida’s Parental Rights in Education bill likely will face First Amendment and Equal Protection Clause challenges By Rachel Reed/Harvard Law Today – March 30, 2022 Credit: CHANDAN … Limiting Lessons: An Interview with LGBTQ+ Advocacy Clinic Director on Florida’s Parental Rights in Education Bill Read More […]
April 4, 2022
Meet the First Trans Women of Color to Teach at Harvard Law
Anya Marino and Alejandra Caraballo talk about the barriers that can systematically block a community from excelling in, or even entering the legal field. “For the longest time … I didn’t see other people who … Meet the First Trans Women of Color to Teach at Harvard Law Read More » The post Meet […]
August 19, 2021
LGBTQ+ Clinic Director Alexander Chen: Gender-Affirming Care Doesn’t Just Help Trans Youth Survive. It Allows Them to Flourish.
With bills targeting transgender youth under consideration in more than half of U.S. states, Alexander Chen, founding director of Harvard Law School’s LGTBQ+ Advocacy Clinic, recently shared personal reflections with Slate on how not being … LGBTQ+ Clinic Director Alexander Chen: Gender-Affirming Care Doesn’t Just Help Trans Youth Survive. It Allows Them to Flourish. […]
April 8, 2021