Law students raise funds and awareness for Trans ID clinic
While volunteering at the Trans ID Clinic through the Pro Bono Students Canada program, law students Hannah Taylor and Lou Lamari noticed that some clients at the Clinic may not be able to afford the basic costs associated with completing legal name and gender marker change applications. That is why they, together with fellow OUTLaws student group members, decided to embark on a year-long fundraising project to help, culminating in Call Me By My Name – a spectacular Drag Show event taking place on May 7 at the Good Will Social Club on Portage Avenue.
The Trans ID Clinic, operated through Rainbow Resource Centre and Pro Bono Students Canada (PBSC), provides free legal support to trans and non-binary people who seek to legally change their names and/or gender marker on their provincial or federal IDs. The clinic launched in September 2021 and a team of students and supervising lawyers meet with clients on a monthly basis.
“While our clients have expressed that they are thrilled to access the support the Clinic offers in filling out legal name and gender marker change applications, we realized that many may be unable to afford the costs associated with such applications,” said Hannah Taylor, an executive member of Outlaws.
These expenses include $120 to legally change one’s name, $30 for each new birth certificate, $10 for a new driver’s license, and $120 for a new passport. While often inaccessibly high for the average person in Winnipeg, such costs are even more inaccessible for transgender Manitobans, since the transgender community experiences poverty at levels disproportionate to the average Canadian due to realities such as employment discrimination, unstable housing, and lack of generational wealth due to familial disownment.
The Outlaws group at the University of Manitoba’s Faculty of Law, which offers support and a welcoming environment to law students who are members of the 2SLGBTQ+ community, has been working towards the upcoming fundraiser for months. Despite COVID-19 keeping students away from Robson Hall during the Fall term, the group managed to raise $1350 to pay for the main fundraiser, by selling pronoun pins in November of 2021. That money will now go directly to fund applications through the Clinic, however, thanks to the partnership of Pro Bono Students Canada and the generous support of the Dean of Law, Dr. Richard Jochelson, who has set aside Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) funding to help cover the cost of the drag show fundraiser.
“OUTlaws has been an important Robson Hall community group since years ago when Associate Dean Donn Short helped open the Faculty chapter,” said Jochelson. “One of our goals with EDI funding was to make sure we could support members in the community that otherwise would need to scramble to get funding together for social activities and activism. We are happy to have provided some assistance to Outlaws during this year of separation and it is exciting that this event will be in-person and connect individuals to communities.”
The Drag show itself was the brainchild of law student Lamari, who is a Drag performer and – of course – plans to host the event in Drag. “This should be a fantastic event,” said Lamari. “It will be a great opportunity to get together in person and also to raise awareness about the Trans ID Clinic.”
OUTLaws hopes to welcome University of Manitoba students, faculty, staff, Queer and Trans people, and allies to Call Me By My Name. “As a Drag show, we want to make sure it’s a safe space, and also create an opportunity for our classmates to learn,” said Lamari.
Besides Lamari as host, the evening’s performers will include other members of the community who are very involved in advocacy work for Trans people including the Executive Director of Sunshine House, a community drop-in and resource centre that focuses on harm reduction and social inclusion.
Related: Help build a trans-inclusive world