The John Marshall Law School Launches First of Its Kind Gender Marker and Name Change Project

CHICAGO, July 6, 2016 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- The John Marshall Law School has launched a gender marker and name change project in its Pro Bono Program & Clinic. The project, the first of its kind in Illinois, will help people navigate the maze of local, state and federal laws and rules required to change their names and gender marker on documents like drivers' licenses, state identification cards, US passports and social security cards.

"We are very excited to launch the Name Change and Gender Marker Project. The project is another way that our Pro Bono Program & Clinic will provide legal services to those in need of our legal assistance, while at the same time offering our students the opportunity to learn the issues affecting our communities and allow students to gain practical legal experience," said Damian Ortiz, director of the Pro Bono Program & Clinic at The John Marshall Law School.

John Marshall law students will work directly with Illinois residents needing assistance in changing their names and/or gender marker on government documents. The project is being launched in conjunction with Equality Illinois. Lawyers from Seyfarth Shaw are helping to train the law students in the legal process.

"We are excited to initiate this great partnership with The John Marshall Law School and its students in the school's Pro Bono Program & Clinic and with Seyfarth Shaw," said Brian C. Johnson, Chief Executive Officer of Equality Illinois, which is now celebrating its 25th year advocating for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) Illinoisans.

"By establishing the Gender Marker and Name Change Project, the law school is helping transgender Illinoisans navigate a sometimes confusing and intimidating legal process, while also educating law students how an action like a name or gender marker correction can help improve someone's life," Johnson said.

Only 59 percent of transgender and gender non-conforming people have updated the gender marker on their driver's licenses or state identification cards, while only 26 percent have updated their passport. A transgender or gender non-conforming person may face humiliation, discrimination and harassment if his or her core identification documents are not corrected to reflect their gender identity but the process to do so can be confusing, time consuming and intimidating.

The new Gender Marker and Name Change Project at John Marshall adds to the array of pro bono legal services already offered by the school's Pro Bono Program & Clinic including housing rights, discrimination complaints, police misconduct and expungements.

The Pro Bono Clinic has already assisted one client with a name change is ready to help more people seeking assistance with name or gender marker changes.

The Pro Bono Clinic can be reached by email at or by calling at (312) 427-2737, ext. 477.


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