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Introducing the 2020 Fellows Fighting for the LGBTQ+ Community

/ Blog Post

On May 12, we announced the 78 new Fellows in our 2020 class, who will launch their public interest careers through an Equal Justice Works Fellowship. In honor of Pride month, we spoke with 2020 Equal Justice Works Fellows Victoria Jeon, Gabriella Larios, and Arielle Wisbaum about the LGBTQ+ rights-focused projects they will begin this fall.

Photo of Victoria Jeon

At the National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance (NQAPIA), Victoria Jeon will promote intersectional legal rights for LGBTQ+ Asian American and Pacific Islanders (API). An LGBTQ+ Korean immigrant herself, Victoria notes that LGBTQ+ APIs are often overlooked in both their respective communities and the LGBTQ+ community at large, leaving a significant gap in legal services for these populations.

“What I am fighting for is written in my face and identity. I want to be an advocate for my own intersectional community and make a difference on their behalf,” Victoria said. The issues her project will address include immigration law, family law, criminal law, and more. By blending law, advocacy, and community organizing, Victoria’s project aims for a stronger communal infrastructure for the LGBTQ+ API community. Through this work, Victoria hopes not only for a stronger LGBTQ+ API community, but for a greater awareness and inclusion of LGBTQ+ API individuals and racial diversity in the greater LGBTQ+ community.

Photo of Gabriella Larios

As a Fellow at the New York Civil Liberties Union, Gabriella Larios will engage in policy advocacy, public education, outreach, and litigation to challenge the use of religion to discriminate against individuals seeking reproductive healthcare and LGBTQ+ New Yorkers. Gabriella points to an uptick in mergers between secular and religious hospitals as a driving force behind her project, noting that religion has been weaponized to deny access to health care and services related to reproductive and LGBTQ+ care. Additionally, “health care providers have been emboldened by the federal government’s recent attacks on reproductive rights and the LGBTQ+ community, often hiding behind the cloak of religion,” Gabriella said. Her project will lay the foundation to strengthen protections on the state and local level.

“This fight is personal for me,” said Gabriella. “As a lesbian Latinx woman, I am deeply committed to advocating on behalf of my communities while empathizing with and uplifting the stories of all people who have been denied care because of their identity.”

Photo of Arielle Wisbaum

At New York Lawyers for the Public Interest, Arielle Wisbaum will provide holistic advocacy for transgender, gender non-conforming, intersex (TGNCI), and HIV+ immigrant New Yorkers to access healthcare, including gender-affirming procedures. Noting the double marginalization of citizenship status and gender identity, Arielle will take a holistic approach that considers immigration status, profiling, and harassment while addressing her client’s pressing medical needs.

“Serving this community and graduating from law school is a privilege that I will not take lightly,” said Arielle. COVID-19 has drawn out the existing structural barriers and state violence that TGNCI and immigrant communities face. ICE and the police continue to arrest and harass TGNCI and immigrant New Yorkers—placing them in detention centers where the virus is spreading and exacerbating healthcare neglect on the inside. For those detained and living with HIV, treatment is inconsistent at best. Organizers, activists, and resilient TGNCI community members are the backbone of this work. My intention through my Fellowship at NYLPI is to be there when state violence and barriers to healthcare get in the way of their power.”

Interested in supporting the LGBTQ+ community as an Equal Justice Works Fellow? Visit here to learn more and apply for the Fellowship class of 2021.

What I am fighting for is written in my face and identity. I want to be an advocate for my own intersectional community and make a difference on their behalf.

Victoria Jeon /
Equal Justice Works Fellow

Learn more about becoming an Equal Justice Works Fellow