2014 Equal Justice Works Fellow, Rage Kidvai

Rage Kidvai

Name of Host Organization: Sylvia Rivera Law Project
City, State: New York, New York
Sponsors: The Paul Rapoport Foundation

The Project

Rage provided direct legal representation in immigration (specifically, asylum, withholding of removal, u-visa, t-visa, adjustment of status, employment authorization and naturalization) applications for low-income transgender, gender non-conforming, and intersex immigrants, prioritizing individuals with criminal convictions.

The Inspiration

Need Addressed By Project: 
Transgender, gender non-conforming, and intersex (TGNCI) people experience astounding violence, harassment, and imprisonment. 63 percent of transgender people have experienced serious acts of discrimination (i.e., events that have a major impact on a person’s quality of life and ability to sustain oneself financially or emotionally). Trans people flee their home countries due to gender-based persecution; however, when living in the U.S., they are often exposed to the criminal legal system. Many of these immigrants have no representation, and LGBT legal organizations are only beginning to address the unique issues of TGNCI individuals. This Fellowship, located at the Sylvia Rivera Law Project, will fill a gap in legal services for undocumented, poor TGNCI individuals with criminal records, by assisting those who qualify for asylum or withholding of removal based upon a well-founded fear of persecution
Fellowship Highlights: 
In the past two years, Rage has:
• Helped many TGNCI individuals obtain legal immigration status (and subsequent access to benefits)
• Advocated for clients to obtain immigration identity documents that reflect people’s correct names and genders
• Connected TGNCI people to appropriate services in areas such as name changes, identity documents, housing, shelter, criminal cases, employment discrimination, health, public benefits, inter-personal violence, and immigration.
Where are they now?: 
Now that the Fellowship is complete, Rage plans to:
• Work at the Legal Aid Society’s Criminal Defense Practice in New York, representing indigent clients in their criminal cases.
• Maintain a commitment to providing thoughtful representation to TGNCI folks.
• Maintain a commitment to dismantling prisons and responding to state violence.

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