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Disrupting Bias: Working with LGBTQIA Clients

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Disrupting Bias: Working with LGBTQIA Clients

Bias can influence decision-making and behavior in profound ways, and bias against the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, and asexual (“LGBTQIA”) communities is pervasive. LGBTQIA clients need attorneys who are both competent in the law, and competent in LGBTQIA experiences. This presentation divides LGBTQIA cultural competence into five distinct areas: understanding the terminology around gender, sex, and sexual orientation, calling out the messaging that can influence our beliefs and behaviors, appreciating the specific challenges facing members of these communities, cultivating inclusive spaces that helps LGBTQIA clients feel comfortable expressing their needs, and being an ally by committing to a reflective practice. The presentation contains a number of helpful practice tips about representing LGBTQIA clients.

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Jason Potter: Welcome to Disrupting Bias, working with LGBTQIA clients by Quimbee. My name is Jason Potter and I'm a staff presenter at Quimbee. We have some interesting written materials for you today, including slide handouts and course materials. You can follow along with them or just sit back and follow the rainbow on this cultural competence journey.
   Judge Benjamin Cardozo wrote, deep below consciousness are other forces, the likes and the dislikes, the predilections, and the prejudices, the instincts and emotions and habits and convictions. Some of the qualities of good lawyering may actually nurture these unconscious forces. Lawyers are taught to objectively evaluate the law to determine the likely outcome and make a recommendation to a client. But the idea that a person can be objective is a fallacy, operating beneath the surface out of one's perception are biases. Some of which the mind has nurtured for a lifetime. People who believe they can be objective and many lawyers do are more susceptible to bias, studies show. Bias can influence decision making and behavior in profound ways. Disrupting bias often starts by learning about one's own.
   One famous and well-studied bias test is called the implicit association test. For some people, the test reveals associations far different than their conscious beliefs. When I took the test a while ago, I learned that I had a strong automatic preference for straight people over gay people, but I am gay. I have many gay friends and I live in one of the gayest places in the country, literally. I was shocked and then ashamed and then aware and determined to disrupt that bias. What I uncovered is not uncommon. Bias against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, and asexual, LGBTQIA, communities is pervasive. Regarding legal representation, LGBTQIA people have many of the same legal needs as other people, but they also have unique needs. Many of which stem from structural and cultural biases.
   LGBTQIA clients need attorneys who are both competent in the law and in LGBTQIA experiences. An attorney's lack of LGBTQIA competence can negatively impact the effectiveness of the representation, can impede the client's access to justice and can endanger the client's wellbeing or even their life. In this sense, cultural competence and access to justice operate in tandem. However, becoming culturally competent doesn't just happen poof, like the wicked witch of the west magically appears in a plume of red smoke. No, it's an ongoing educational process. More like a journey down the yellow brick road, cultural competence is developed.
   Now, developing more LGBTQIA competence involves understanding the terminology around gender, sex and sexual orientation. Calling out the messaging that can influence our beliefs and behaviors. Appreciating the specific challenges facing members of these communities. And cultivating inclusive spaces that help LGBTQIA clients feel comfortable expressing their needs and beliefs. And finally being an ally by committing to a reflective practice. Cultural competence disrupts bias. So, that's exactly what we will work towards today.
   First, understand the terminology around gender, sex and sexual orientation. Sexual orientation is a person's romantic, physical or sexual attraction to the same sex or different sex people. Sexual orientations include gay, lesbian, bisexual, and others. Now, avoid outdated terminology like sexual preference or homosexual. Gender identity is the primary determinant of sex. It's also called brain sex. It's one's deeply felt internal sense of being male, of being female or both, or neither for that matter. Gender expression is the way a person expresses gender through dress, grooming habits, mannerisms and other characteristics.
   Lesbian refers to a woman who is primarily attracted, could be sexually or could be non-sexually, to women. Gay refers to a man who is primarily sexually or romantically attracted to other men or any person whose primary sexual or romantic attraction is a person of the same sex as themselves. Bisexual refers to a person whose primary sexual or romantic attraction are persons of the same and different sexes. They may be attracted to a continuum of gender identities and gender expressions. Transgender is an umbrella term that refers to people who have a gender identity different than the sex assigned at birth. It can apply to people who transgress society's gender norms that's called gender nonconforming. The term queer is an umbrella term, referring to people who reject categorization as LGBT or who identify as LGB or T and assume the political identity of queer. This might include cisgender or straight people who identify as non-normative or counter-normative sexual identity. This term queer is offensive if it's used as an epithet. The term questioning refers to people who are exploring sexual orientation and gender identity.
   How about intersex? Intersex is an umbrella term to refer to a broad array of people with different physical variations, people born with secondary sex characteristics that don't fit what the binary category of man or woman. They may place themselves on the gender binary or not. Asexual refers to a person who is inherently not sexually attracted to other people. This is distinct from celibate. They may have romantic feelings towards other people, but don't express that attraction in a sexual manner. The term two-spirit refers to a native American or first nations person whose spirits [inaudible 00:08:18] male and female. It's used by native American people to provide an alternative to LGBT that also honors their heritage. Sex. Sex is the designation given to someone at birth, usually based on the appearance of external genitalia. Cisgender refers to people who have a gender identity that aligns with the sex assigned at birth. It's the opposite of transgender.
   Now, sexual orientation and gender identity are distinct concepts. One is about who you love. And the other is about who you are. To show you these are distinct concepts, consider this. Someone can have female gender identity and a female gender expression be attracted to women and be assigned male at birth. This could be a transgender woman who's a lesbian. But, we never assume that person should tell us how they identify. Some other gender related concepts. Cross-dresser. A cross-dresser is a person who wears clothing that's typically associated with a different sex. It's as a form of gender expression. They may be most comfortable with the sex they were assigned at birth, and they may be heterosexual and/or cisgender. Now, it may be tied to sexual orientation or sexual activity. Transsexual is an older medical term or psychiatric term, sometimes used by people who have had or who want to have gender affirming healthcare.
   Third gender refers to a person who's categorized by themselves or by society or by the government or all of the above as neither a man nor a woman. It's one of the social categories in cultures that recognize two plus genders, like Thailand or like India. Agender refers to a person without a gender. They may identify as having no gender or being non-binary. Gender-queer refers to a person whose gender is outside the gender binary. They may identify as transgender, but maybe not. Gender-fluid refers to a person who identifies their gender as on a spectrum of gender identity and expression. In gender-nonconforming, refers to people who don't conform to society's expectations for gender roles. Transgender people may or may not be gender-nonconforming and vice versa. Non-binary people are people whose gender does not fit inside the gender binary of male, female.
   Some other terms M-to-F or F-to-M, these are acronyms for male-to-female or female-to-male. These are disfavored. They send the incorrect message that a person is one gender and then becomes another. The proper messaging here is that a person has always been one gender and was improperly assigned the wrong sex at birth. The acronym MAAB, FAAB, are acronyms for male assigned at birth and female assigned at birth. And finally, TGNC refers to transgender and gender-nonconforming. It's an umbrella term.
   Now, language is important. There is no agreement about the definitions that I just covered, this identity terminology. And you may not understand or be comfortable with one or more of them, but if someone identifies as one of them, you should use that term. Number two, call out the messaging that can influence our beliefs and behaviors. Bias against LGBTQIA people in today's culture is pervasive. Let's look at some examples.
   The first example is a tweet by Tila Tequila. Tila Tequila wrote, at least I'm a real woman, Lol. Sending the message that trans-people are phony or masquerading. Next example is an episode of Will & Grace. In season 11, episode 15 of Will & Grace, Grace asks her nurse, what her baby's gender is. The nurse says that Grace should look between the legs. The nurse tells Grace that if the baby has both genitalia, she should take a photo because she's always wanted to see one of those. Historically, medical photos of intersex babies has been one of the most harmful forms of abuse to intersex children. This example sends the message that intersex people are freakish oddities and the object of prurient interest. The next example is a tweet by Donald J. Trump. He says, victory and cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender in the military would entail, thank you. This tweet sends the message that trans people are a burden on society.
   Our next example is the film Suicide Squad. In the film Suicide Squad, DC comics stripped out references to Harley Quinn's bisexuality, which was featured in numerous comic books. This example sends a message that bisexual people don't exist. This next example is a tweet by Kevin Hart. He says, you look like a gay version of Chris Brown, put a shirt on fag. Sending the message that gay people can be used as humor or comic effect for or by straight and cis-people.
   And our last example, the makers of Tiger King left in unintentional misgendering of Saff, a trans-man, instead referring to Saff as a woman on the show. Sending the message that, butch lesbians are the same as trans men. Indistinguishable. Now, in the legal industry, bias against LGBTQI individuals exist today. A 2012 study by Lambda Legal with a cohort of 965 LGBT participants, who spent time in court in the last five years, reported that 19% of them heard a judge, an attorney or other court employee speak negatively about a person's sexual orientation, their gender identity or their gender expression. Trans individuals in particular, often encounter judges, attorneys, and court employees who refuse to acknowledge their identity, refuse to use the pronouns they have identified. And for judges, even make findings that require individuals to disavow their true identity.
   M. Dru Levasseur, the deputy program director at the national LGBT bar association gave a telling example. Dru said one trans woman in drug court in Georgia, who had turned her life around, was told by the judge to complete drug testing and not to come back in my courtroom unless you are dressed as a man. In another case, a judge in New York would only issue visitation or custody rights to a transgender parent if she agreed not to follow through with her plans for gender transition surgery. Improper disclosure or discussion of sexual orientation and gender identity in the legal context is not infrequent. Outings can cause violations of privacy, which may lead to harassment, threats on a person's life, physical harm or death. In the Lambda study of the respondents involved in court proceedings, 16% of them reported that their LGBT identity was identified in court when that identity wasn't relevant to the case at hand. 11% of respondents reported that their identities were disclosed without their permission.
   For example, one trans person recounted, when I went to court to file for my divorce, the clerk tried to require proof of my transgender spouse's birth, forcing me to out her as a trans person. When I said this, the Massachusetts state employee began telling me that I needed to submit proof of birth to make sure I wasn't lying. This happened in front of a whole packed lobby, full of people [inaudible 00:18:36]. LGBT individuals with intersectional identities are subject to an even higher level of discrimination in the legal context. The effect of all of these biases on LGBTQI individuals is tremendous. Bias creates barriers in accessing necessary services. Bias helps justify the denial of services and employment for LGBTQI individuals, although not after the recent Supreme court case that just came down.
   Bias strips LGBTQI people of their dignity. It tells them that they're disposable. Bias can cause violations of privacy, which may lead to harassment, to threats on a person's life, to physical harm or death. And bias fosters a distrust for the legal profession. In the Lambda survey, a mere 28% of trans and gender-nonconforming people surveyed, expressed a general trust in the legal system. And this was lower than the level of trust this community expressed for law enforcement. Number three, appreciate the specific challenges facing members of the community. Gender identity is universal. We all have one. You are the gender identity you are, because that's just what you know. For those of you who identify as male, if your genitals were suddenly taken away or erased, chances are you still identify as male internally, chances are your genitals and your gender have always aligned. So it was basically invisible to you. But for some people, the genitals they were born with don't align with how they identify internally.
   So, we'll do a little exercise. Hey, Tom. This is Tom Brady. What's Tom's gender? Really? Now you don't know Tom's gender. You don't know it by looking at Tom. You don't know it when an ESPN commentator uses male pronouns to reference Tom. You don't know it from the locker room Tom uses or the uniform Tom wears, or from the football league Tom plays on. Has Tom personally told you Tom's gender, then, then you might know. But the only person who can really know Tom's gender identity is Tom. The bottom line here is don't assume you know someone's gender. The next time you see someone out and about on the street, remind yourself that you don't know that person's gender. Gender identity is an individual's internal sense of gender, which might be male, female, neither, or a combination of male and female. And it may be different from an individual sex assigned at birth. That's the definition in the Affordable Care Act regulations. The anti-discrimination provision section 1557, which president Trump just nixed via an executive order.
   This does a really great job though of describing the spectrum of gender, male, female, everything in between or something else entirely. Numerous studies have confirmed that gender identity is the primary determinant of one's sex, not genitalia. So there are nine basic determinants of sex, external morphological sex, hypothalamic sex, sex of assignment and rearing pubertal hormonal sex, gender identity, chromosomal sex, gonadal sex, fetal hormonal sex, and internal morphologic sex. Studies have also confirmed that gender identity is an immutable, unconvertible characteristic. Now, let's distinguish between gender binary and intersex. Gender binary is the ingrained tendency to recognize only two genders, male and female. So non-binary refers to someone whose innate gender doesn't fall into male or female. They may or may not be transgender. Intersex refers to someone born with physical characteristics that don't fit within the binary male or female. Many intersex people identify as male or female.
   Here are some gender related terminology to avoid some problematic terms, include transgender. So transgender is an adjective. So you wouldn't say the opposing attorney is a transgender. It's more appropriate to say, Julia is a transgender individual. Also, the term transgendered is to be avoided. Use the term transgender, we don't use the ed. Transgender used as an adjective, shouldn't have that ed. So we don't say there is a parade of transgenders, we do say there's a parade of transgender people. So transgenderism is also a term to be avoided. It's offensive to transgender individuals and it reduces trans people to a condition. Finally, the term transsexual. This was once commonly used, but generally, it's not regarded as affirming today although some people still self-identify as transsexual. Some defamatory and deeply harmful terms include adjectives that suggest transgender people are charlatans, like the term deceptive, pretending, masquerading or fooling. Also, the term tranny, the term he/she or she-male or it, on pronouns, do not assume that a person's surname or gender expression is indicative of that person's gender identity. Pronouns are frequently weaponized and used in a discriminatory way against gender-nonconforming people.
   There are two types of pronouns, binary pronouns and non-binary pronouns. Binary pronouns are used by many people who identify as male or as female, respectively. So pronouns in the binary would be, she, her, hers, and he, him, his. On the non-binary side, non-binary pronouns are used by some people if their gender identities don't fit within that binary. They may use the term, they, them, theirs, ze or hir or other variations. Addressing or referring to individuals by the wrong pronouns is disrespectful in a really foundational way and inappropriate and can cause or contribute to unlawful harassment or discrimination. We'll talk in a bit about ways to ask someone what their pronouns are.
   Now, the myth of surgeries. It's a myth that a person of one gender becomes another gender when they have that surgery. The truth is that the focus on surgeries is really misplaced. Gender identity is a deeply held internal sense. The emphasis on surgery should be avoided and the term sex-change is pejorative. So for these reasons, pre and postoperative should be avoided. Also, many transgender individuals have not received and have no intention of getting gender-affirming surgeries. Less than 20% of transgender people, under 5% of trans-men undergo the genital surgery typically associated with transitioning. It's expensive, and it's often not covered by insurance. According to the Williams Institute, 29.4% of transgender individuals live in poverty. So the surgery is also painful, sterilizing and often undesired. The culturally appropriate framing of the process of harmonizing one's social, physical and gender expression with one's gender identity is called transitioning. And transitioning isn't limited to surgery, their social transitioning and medical transitioning.
   In terms of social transitioning, that's a time when an individual starts living in a way that reflects their actual gender identity rather than the sex they were assigned at birth. And this is the only transition that occurs for many transgender people. It's more central than medical transition. Social transition can include using a name that aligns with one's gender identity. It could be a social name change or it could be a legal name change. Social transition also includes using the bathroom that aligns with one's gender identity or using pronouns corresponding to one's gender identity or aligning one's appearance, one's hair, one's attire with their gender identity. Now medical transition are services and procedures for the purpose of increasing a sense of congruence with one's gender identity and the physical body. Those include hormone treatments, therapies, and procedures and surgeries. And that's a non-exhaustive list.
   Some statistics about the trans-community. The national center for transgender equality estimates that between 0.25% and 1% of the U.S. population is transgender. And that's roughly the population of the state of Utah, with 3,205,958 people. The 2015 U.S. transgender survey, we'll call it the USTS, continues to be one of the most comprehensive surveys ever conducted on the lives of transgender and gender-nonconforming people. Researchers studied a cohort of 27,715 transgender and gender-nonconforming people. This study is the basis for many statistics that we reference in this presentation. Transgender people experience persistent and widespread hardships, discrimination and violence. Receiving a government ID and identity documents with a correct gender and name is often a major struggle. Those whose gender is outside the binary have historically had significant difficulty changing their gender markers. This process can be confusing and inaccessible to some people. Requirements also vary by jurisdiction and some jurisdictions require a court order to change a name on a government ID. States may require proof of some kind of medical intervention to change the gender marker on many government IDs and this makes the process of affirming gender through identification inaccessible to many TGGN people.
   Transgender individuals also experience barriers in healthcare. In the U.S. transgender survey, almost one-third or 33% of those who saw a healthcare provider had at least one negative experience pertaining to transgender status, like being verbally harassed or refused treatment because of their gender identity. Receiving gender-affirming care is medically necessary, but it's often denied. In terms of poverty and employment, the rate of poverty among transgender people is almost 2.5 times greater than the general population. According to the USTS, nearly one-third of respondents, 29% were living in poverty, compared to 12% of the U.S. population. The unemployment rate for USTS respondents was 15% in 2015, about three times the unemployment rate in the U.S. population at that time. The rate of unemployment among respondents who identified as black and trans was double the rate of black unemployment in the U.S. In the USTS, 30% of respondents employed during the last year reported being fired, denied a promotion or experiencing some other mistreatment related to gender identity, like being harassed or attacked. Almost one in four respondents reported other discrimination and mistreatment like employers demanding they present as the wrong gender or sharing their transgender status without permission.
   Thanks to the U.S. Supreme court's decision in June 15th of 2020 in Bostock v. Clayton County, Georgia. LGBT individuals now have the right to equal employment under Title VII. And the impact of this ruling is encapsulated in these statistics. 30% of respondents employed, reported being fired, denied a promotion, or experiencing some other mistreatment related to gender identity. 30% in the survey. This is just a fraction of the people who will be protected from employment discrimination because of this decision, it's monumental. On the subject of violence, transgender people face an astonishing amount of physical and sexual violence. According to the Sylvia Rivera Law Project, violence against transgender people of color is commonly more severe, more frequent and taken less seriously by authorities or committed by these authorities. In the transgender survey, 44% of black respondents indicated that they were verbally harassed. And over half, 53% had been sexually assaulted at least one time in their life. Undocumented trans people were almost twice as likely as the overall sample to report being physically attacked.
   Nearly half of USTS respondents, that's 46% reported that they were verbally harassed in the past year because of being transgender. About one in 10 respondents reported that they were physically attacked within the last year. And approximately one in two respondents had experienced contact sexual violence in their lifetime. Access to public spaces is also a hardship for transgender and gender-nonconforming people. Bathrooms can be dangerous for people with fluid-gender identities. And it's not uncommon for gender-nonconforming people to get arrested while using the wrong restroom or just harassed. According to the USTS survey, 12% of transgender respondents indicated that they were verbally harassed when they used a restroom. There's widespread fear in the transgender community about public restroom use.
   According to the transgender survey, over half, 59% of transgender respondents reported avoiding a public restroom in the past year due to fear of confrontations or other problems. One-third or 32% of USTS respondents limited their eating and drinking, so they could avoid using the restroom during the past year. 8% of respondents said they had a urinary tract infection or kidney infection or other adrenal problem due to avoiding restrooms. One trans individual said, in high school, I never went to the bathroom, I just held it. All-gender restrooms are a solution that can relieve many of the issues that trans and gender-nonconforming people face, but there's widespread opposition to this solution. Other notable social and legal barriers for trans individuals and gender-nonconforming individuals include immigration, incarceration, housing and homelessness, and education. These structural and social barriers, they don't operate in their own silos.
   To understand discrimination against trans people, it's also important to understand discrimination based on race, class, ethnicity, sex, sexual orientation, disability, religion, and more. Trans people of color fight both transphobia and racism. And trans people generally live at the intersection of transphobia and misogyny. All of these barriers get compounded and have devastating effects on the transgender community. If the impact on the transgender community could be encapsulated in one statistic, it's this. An astonishing 40% of transgender people have attempted suicide in their lifetimes. Almost nine times the attempted suicide rate in the U.S. population.
   Sexual orientation. Based on 340,000 interviews conducted as part of Gallup's Daily Tracking in 2017, the percentage of Americans who identify as LGBT was 4.5%. Now, there's some problematic sexual orientation related terminology you should be aware of. The term queer as a pejorative use. Remember, queer can also have an affirming use in a political way, but it can be used in an offensive way. Also, the term faggot or fag, and the term sissy, and there are more.
   LGBT individuals face challenges in a number of areas. One specific area is adoption, custody and divorce. Research exploring the openness of adoption agencies to working with LGBT parents suggests that LGBT people may be facing unique obstacles with child welfare agencies. State laws and local practices vary in whether they permit or support fostering or adoption by same sex couples or LGBT individuals generally. That can present added stress. Staff knowledge and skill in working with LGBT individuals varies as do their bias levels. In the area of custody, there is a lot of bias against lesbian and gay people in custody cases. In one judge's opinion, in a custody matter, the chief judge of the Alabama Supreme court referred to gay partners as immoral, detestable, an inherent evil and inherently destructive to the nature and order of society. Upon the filing of a formal complaint that Alabama judicial inquiry commission found there was no basis to support a finding that the judge had violated the canons of judicial ethics.
   In divorce, LGBT individuals can face distinct challenges when separating or divorcing, now that same sex marriage is legal nationwide. 547,000 same sex couples were married in the U.S. in 2017. Stresses like discrimination and employment and housing, less family support, can all impact LGBT relationships. Divorce laws and processes also remain heteronormative. Sometimes same sex couples find their relationship at odds with the way some of the common law rules operate. Also, some long term couples are treated as though they've only been together for a few years, which is problematic for division of assets and other issues. Advice to same sex divorcees here might differ from straight couples. Attorneys advising a same sex divorcee may want to explore mediation and collaborative law as a way to have more control over the process. In the area of housing, instability, discrimination and homelessness. LGBT adults are at least 15% more likely to be poor than cisgender straight adults.
   LGBT individuals experience substantial harassment and discrimination by providers of housing. Studies show that providers are less likely to respond to same-sex couples and seek higher rent from male same-sex couples than different sex couples. Laws may provide LGBT people no redress when they experience bias in these areas. In the area of employment, LGBT cisgender people are much more likely than heterosexual cisgender people to experience employment discrimination. And hopefully, after the recent Supreme court decision of Bostock v. Clayton County, Georgia, statistics like this will never arise again. State laws provide a patchwork of statutory protection against LGBT employment discrimination. And federal protection has burst wide open under Title VII.
   In the area of queer youth. Queer youth are children who might or are questioning whether they're gay, lesbian, transgender, bisexual, questioning nonconforming or perceived as that. Studies have found that from 20% to 45% of homeless youth are LGBTQ. Queer youth often have problematic familial relationships. And law enforcement frequently remove queer youth from their homes for willful defiance or incorrigibility. These challenge often lead to homelessness and street-living. And on the street, queer youth are more susceptible to criminal arrest for violating truancy laws and failing to pay previous fines.
   If arrested, queer youth can be improperly characterized as sex offenders, despite non-sex related charges, and then subject to harsher sentences and sex offender registry. Many attorneys and judges have not been adequately equipped to respond to the unique experiences and challenges that queer youth face. Youth are subject to the pervasive bias that children cannot be LGBT, that queerness is inherently sexual, so that a queer child is just confused or exploring. Even an attorney acting in good faith can become an enemy of queer youth and cause serious harm to them if they're not culturally competent. There are a number of other areas where LGBT people face unique challenges such as the area of domestic violence, HIV criminalization, and discrimination based on HIV status, and immigration.
   The first part of this presentation was designed to help you build competency. The final two parts of this presentation involve some practical tips for affirming the experiences of your LGBTQIA clients and developing a practice of continuous improvement in cultural competency. Number four, cultivate inclusive spaces that help LGBTQIA clients feel comfortable expressing their needs. In light of the harms caused by laws and systems, many LGBTQIA individuals treat spaces as unsafe until proven otherwise. Justice attorneys must keep up to speed with the norms of a particular practice area in which they work, so too must the attorney develop competency in developments within the LGBTQIA community. So here are some tips for cultivating inclusive spaces. Number one, create an inclusive professional environment where LGBTQIA clients can feel more comfortable forming a relationship with you.
   Display visual cues indicating that your office is an inclusive space. For example, posters, stickers, flags, or other indicators that your office is a safe space or a safer space for LGBTQIA people, but don't be annoying about it. Also, make inclusive changes to your marketing materials, online forms and intake forms, revise them to remove language that makes assumptions about sex, sexual orientation, or gender. For example, gender designations, is there a compelling reason to rely on the gender binary in your forms? Put those male, female designations under the microscope. Encountering forms with two-gender designations can be disappointing at least to many members of the LGBTQIA community. It appears culturally uninformed. Also, take a look at marital designations. If you are a divorce lawyer, you may have a form with designations for each spouse and it might say, husband, wife. I encourage you to revise it to say spouse one and spouse two. Also, consider honorifics, make it a policy to avoid honorific language like Mr., Mrs., or Miss. Because these automatically assume someone's gender.
   If you must, you could add Mx, M-X to your [inaudible 00:48:09] it's pronounced Mx. Mx is a title used before a person's surname or full name by those who don't want to specify their gender or by those who prefer not to identify themselves as male or female. Provide a dedicated optional space for clients to disclose their pronouns on intake forms. And if you provide a space for legal name, also include a space for a preferred name. I also encourage you to change your email signatures, your LinkedIn profile, your website, and other biographical information to include your own pronouns next to your name. And finally, with regard to practice management, trained staff in LGBTQIA cultural competency. Number two, always use the correct pronouns and name for your client, including in verbal and written communications and filings. Using the correct pronouns is a basic thing, but it's a critical means of showing respect for another's personhood identity, autonomy and freewill. Even though it might not bring you closer to understanding their legal needs, these terms may be deeply connected to their sense of identity.
   The golden rule is, let the client identify any pronouns themselves and restrain yourself from doing it for them. How do you ask your client about the correct pronouns? Easy, you go first. Let's take a look at an example. Hi, my name is Vic Willcox. My pronouns are, they, them, theirs. Thanks for meeting with me today. What name and pronouns do you use? I'm Cali. Please use she, her, hers. Good to meet you Cali. Now, if it makes you uncomfortable to say this, well, deal with it. That means you're willing to move out of your comfort zone. And outside that comfort zone is where the growth happens. Using the correct pronoun is a best practice that applies to both the lawyer and to the staff. It's best to simply ask the client before sharing pronouns with staff. But most of this can be avoided if the client supplies that information on an intake form.
   Also, stay current on terminology within the LGBTQIA community. So you'd stay up-to-date on this terminology in the same way you'd stay up-to-date on your central practice area. Try seeking out law related organizations that do really good work in the LGBTQIA space. Like the Williams Institute, Lambda Legal, the National Center for transgender equality, the Sylvia Rivera Law Project, and the center for HIV law and policy. In writing that involves your client, always use the pronoun that your client wants you to use. Get comfortable asking your client about these things. As a general writing best practice, try to avoid gendered pronouns all together. Avoid the binary even when a pronoun appears to properly reflect the individual's gender according to their name. So, here's a passage that has a lot of binary in it. When a person is a danger to others or to himself or herself, an officer can take the person into custody and place him or her in a mental health facility as long as the officer has probable cause to do so.
   A lot of unnecessary gendered [inaudible 00:52:09]. To avoid using gender pronouns, consider using they, there, and them. And notwithstanding noun-pronoun agreement issues, which are acceptable today. Also, try repeating the person's actual name again or using a descriptive name, title, or party. In short passages of quoted text, the binary phrase, he or she, or him or her should just be replaced or worked around if it's reasonable to do so. The revision of this passage is when a person is a danger to others or to themselves, an officer can take the person into custody and place them in a mental health facility, as long as the officer has probable cause to do so. See, we don't miss the binary at all.
   Tip number three. Avoid disrespectful disclosures of sexual orientation or gender identity, and call out disrespect where you see it. Don't out LGBTQIA clients to anyone if they haven't given you permission to do so. This includes outing them to staff or other people in your office, outing them in court filings or proceedings, or outing them to anyone else. This again, means that you should take the initiative to ask your client whether they're comfortable with you disclosing their orientation or identity in a specific context. And if you hear jokes or disrespectful comments in your court about an individual, their actual or perceived sexual orientation, gender identity, or expression, or their HIV status, promptly, call it out. If you are at a court hearing, respond promptly, so the comments and the person who made them can be addressed right away. If statements are made on the record, the response and the reference to the response should appear on the record. Be on the lookout for the introduction of evidence of actual or perceived sexual orientation, sexual conduct, gender identity, or expression or HIV status, unless these characteristics are relevant to the issue in the proceeding.
   Evidence introduced or terms used to embarrass or impugn the character of a client or a witness or play up the biases of the judge or jury should be opposed. Tip number four. Practice empathy. Empathy is broadly defined as the ability to understand what another human being is thinking or feeling. Recognize asymmetries. There are several actual or perceived asymmetries at play when a lawyer meets a client. There's a power asymmetry. The client may perceive that the lawyer is in a more powerful position, perhaps by their actual or perceived knowledge, education, class, race, gender orientation, age, accomplishments, connections, fancy office, and more. Also, be mindful of informational asymmetries. A client may believe that they will experience bias with you and that you'll be so culturally incompetent that you can't develop a space where they can disclose their perspectives and their needs, which may be drastically different than your own. Recognizing these asymmetries and practicing empathy can help cut through them.
   So how do you access empathy? Well, be present. Check in and make sure your client is feeling comfortable. Also, maintain eye contact. Avoid writing when your client is speaking. Look directly into their eyes, look directly into their eyes, at least 90% of the time, and hopefully more. Actively listen and affirm. Let the client describe events, concerns, and their anxieties. Don't think about your response to them while the client is talking. Another way to access empathy is to just be authentic. Assume the mindset of person first, lawyer second. Connecting as a person will help you connect as a lawyer. Speak as a person, not a lawyer. Make culturally appropriate word choices, being careful though, not to make assumptions. And admit mistakes upfront. Everyone makes mistakes. If you make a mistake that reflects poorly on your level of competence, like with pronouns, directly address it as soon as possible with a straightforward apology, I'm sorry, and move on and don't make it about you. Make this space for your client to discuss any unique concerns that they may have.
   And another way to access empathy is to be vulnerable. In a representation, you're often asking your client to make themselves emotionally vulnerable to you, establishing a meaningful connection with a client means being vulnerable yourself. Body language and your seating, proximity, help, avoid writing when the client is talking, as I mentioned. Avoid crossing your arms. Project openness, project willingness. Here's an example of how to access empathy in an initial client interaction. I understand that you're here about gaining custody of your son. So before we talk about that, I want to know what I can do to best support you, or if you have any concerns or anything on your mind that you are comfortable vocalizing. The client responds, my ex-wife, Janice, might be verbally abusive to me in court and humiliate me. Janice uses the wrong pronouns when referring to me, despite knowing the correct pronouns. Janice also refers to me by my dead name, which breaks my heart. I feel nervous and ill-equipped to go to court.
   And the attorney responds, thanks for sharing that. I see how traumatizing that experience could be and how the courtroom wouldn't feel safe. I think we can brainstorm some ways to help you feel safer in the courtroom. It's also part of my duty to address any discrimination or harassment right away. I will make sure we address this issue.
   Number five. Be an ally by committing to a reflective practice. Being an ally involves learning the cultural and legal landscape for LGBTQIA individuals and making sure to be supportive and inclusive in our interactions and representations, but that's certainly not all. Being an ally requires committing to a reflective practice, a continuous process of honestly reflecting on our actions, acknowledging our shortcomings and implementing changes for maximum growth. Allies ask themselves these kinds of questions. Do I understand the cultural and legal landscape for LGBTQIA individuals and am I inclusive in my interaction spaces and relationships.
   Allies build relationships with local LGBTQIA organizations and activists. They attend trainings. They visit educational websites and they read articles and books or watch movies with positive portrayals of LGBTQIA people. Allies also ask themselves, am I able to access empathy in all client interactions through presence, authenticity, vulnerability. If not, why not. Allies also ask, do I avoid saviorism by recognizing oppression and privilege, where they exist. One author described savior mentality as the idea that a hero will come and answer our societal problems like Superman rescuing Lois Lane or a fireman rescuing a kitten from a tree.
   Allies ask, is there an intersectionality between my LGBTQIA clients and my own experience? What is the intersectionality of oppression of privilege of gender, of sexual orientation and my own narrative. And allies ask, how could being an ally catalyze change, in my own world.
   Thank you for joining us for this presentation on Disrupting Bias and working with the LGBTQIA community. To learn more about the content of today's presentation, check out the course materials which include today's slides and presenter notes.
   Thank you so much for choosing Quimbee for your CLE needs, and we hope you'll join us again soon.

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