Metro Weekly

TransLAW helps trans people through the confusing and expensive process to update their personal documents

TransLAW's annual "A Toast to TransLAW" is July 30 at Trade

TransLAW Fundraiser — Photo: Tyler-Grigsby

When Shannon Turner first tried to update her personal identification to reflect her correct name and gender identity, the process seemed overwhelming. Then she found TransLAW’s Name and Gender Change Clinic, which operates out of Whitman-Walker Health, and got the assistance — and emotional support — she needed.

“When you’re looking at how to go through the process, it can be really intimidating,” she says. “Sometimes the clerks at the DMV or MVA can be rude or outright hostile in my experience. You’re always just wondering, ‘Will they let me do this?’ Knowing that you have people standing behind you was really helpful for me.”

Turner, now a member of TransLAW’s steering committee, credits the organization with helping her — and more than 1,000 other transgender clients — obtain a new driver’s license and passport. “It can be a pretty confusing process,” she says, which is why TransLAW matches clients with trained legal professionals to assist them. “Since they know what they’re doing and they’ve outlined the process, it makes it so much easier.” And, because changing identity documents can be cost-prohibitive, TransLAW even offers financial assistance to help clients cover costs.

To help raise money for the all-volunteer organization, which relies heavily on charitable giving, TransLAW is hosting its sixth annual “A Toast to TransLAW” fundraiser at Trade nightclub on Monday, July 30. The recommended donation is $10 per person, but no one will be turned away at the door.

“Having a driver’s license or other records that match your presentation makes a huge difference,” says Turner. “A lot of people don’t understand that presenting identification that doesn’t match can really open you up to harassment. Having updated documents just makes normal, everyday situations that you might otherwise take for granted much easier.

“I think that with the trans military ban, for instance, a lot of trans people feel like they have a target on their backs, so supporting organizations like TransLAW and others that do service work is really important right now.”

TransLAW’s 6th Annual Fundraiser and Celebration, “A Toast to TransLAW: Fund Trans Legal Access Now!” is Monday, July 30, from 6-9 p.m., at Trade Nightclub, 1410 14th St. NW. For more information, visit translawdc.org.

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John Riley is the local news reporter for Metro Weekly. He can be reached at jriley@metroweekly.com

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