Group aids LGBTQ community with ‘intimidating’ paperwork
BY ZACH MICKLEA
OU News Bureau
The Know Your Rights project is a group aimed at providing legal services and advice to the local LGBTQ community.
Based in Ann Arbor, it is a cooperative effort of the Jim Toy Community Center, Outlaws of the University of Michigan Law School, Legal Services of South Central Michigan and volunteer attorneys.
The group formed in the fall of 2015 at the University of Michigan. It aids LGBTQ people with paperwork for adoption, marriage licenses, the changing of legal names and gender, and more.
At the Washtenaw County Clerk’s office on Saturday, the group held a name-changing workshop open to the public called “Hello, My Name Is.”
Jazz McGinnis works in conjunction with Know Your Rights and was an organizer of the event. He gave a presentation with a detailed outline of how to legally change one’s name and gender on driver’s licenses, birth certificates and passports in Michigan.
“Legal documentation is really tied into us being able to live our best lives,” he said.
McGinnis said the group decided to host the event after it received an influx of emails following the presidential inauguration of Donald Trump from people uncertain of what they could do.
“Ever since the election, there has been a huge scramble of trans people, the transgender community, coming together to make sure this happens,” McGinnis said. “There is this huge fear that we won’t be able to get that documentation that we really need that keeps us safe.”
Estate matters and criminal issues are among other problems Know Your Rights helps with. If the group does not have the resources to go to trial, it can provide an attorney referral list.
Shirin Makhkamova, the pro bono chair on the Outlaws board and student leader of the project, said the group’s purpose is to simplify the process.
“Even though it may seem straightforward for someone with legal education, it can be intimidating, all the forms, the process,” Makhkamova said. “We help people fill out the forms just right here.”
“We’re wanting to make things as easy as possible, lower the barriers necessary for the people to get that documentation that matches who they are,” McGinnis said.
The Know Your Rights project can be reached at (734) 995-9867 and is located at The Jim Toy Community Center, 319 Braun Court, Ann Arbor MI. 48104.
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