Ashe McGovern

The Project

Ashe helped low-income aging lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning (LGBTQ) people in New York City who need access to public benefits and comprehensive health care with a three-pronged approach of outreach and education, policy advocacy, and direct legal services.

Poverty, homelessness, and discrimination—real and perceived—can seem like insurmountable barriers for older LGBTQ people seeking public benefits and health care. LGBTQ elders have systematically underutilized the important public benefits and health care services that they may need as they age. Approximately 65,000 LGBTQ elders reside in the New York metropolitan area. With the expansion of Medicaid through the Affordable Care Act and the corresponding bans on LGBTQ discrimination in health care, there is an increased need for information and guidance to help LGBTQ elders, as well as legal and social service providers, navigate the system.

Fellowship Highlights

During their Fellowship, Ashe:

  • Wrote official legislative comments to both the New York State Department of Health and the New York City Council, where Ashe testified in person, to advocate for the removal of legal discriminatory barriers to healthcare access for low-income trans and gender non-conforming communities
  • As a result of Ashe’s advocacy: (1) New York City amended its birth certificate policy to ensure that trans people would not have to undergo surgery in order to change their birth certificate gender marker; and (2) New York State Department of Health removed a 15 year old categorical exclusion on trans related healthcare
  • Started the monthly Trans Legal Clinic at the LGBT Community Center in New York City, which provides free legal services to low-income trans and gender non-conforming New Yorkers seeking legal assistance with health care related matters
  • Submitted official recommendations to the New York State Office for the Aging on ways that the state can increase LGBTQ aging community utilization of legal services across the state

What’s Next

Now that the Fellowship is complete, Ashe has joined the Center for American Progress as a Policy Analyst where they are focusing on the effects of criminal, racial, and economic justice issues on LGBTQ communities.

The Project

Lara provided direct legal representation and outreach to lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) asylum seekers and refugees in the Tri-State area.

The LGBT asylum seeker and refugee population in the United States is an incredibly vulnerable and marginalized population. All across the country, the LGBT population at large faces widespread difficulties when trying to exercise their legal rights. In addition to the stigma and challenges that all LGBT people encounter, LGBT refugees have the compounding burden of dealing with mistreatment based on their immigration status. They are forced to try to overcome this double marginalization as they attempt to navigate the asylum system, gain access to benefits, and rebuild their lives in the U.S. after already enduring severe trauma in their countries of origin.

Fellowship Highlights

During her Fellowship, Lara has:

  • Represented 50 LGBT refugees on a range of immigration matters from refugee recognition and resettlement to benefits assistance and Green Card adjustments
  • Recruited more than 100 pro bono attorneys and law students and trained them on LBGT immigration cases
  • Screened and placed more than 150 cases with pro bono attorneys across the country
  • Spoken at law schools, law firms, the State Department, the Department of Homeland Security, and to federal court judges about the unique obstacles facing LGBT refugees

Where are they now?

Now that the Fellowship is complete, Lara will continue her work at the Urban Justice Center and provide legal representation to many more LGBT refugees who are facing persecution around the world.