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#Pride30: ACLU Lawyer Chase Strangio Is Fighting for Trans Justice

Strangio was part of transgender teen Gavin Grimm's legal team, and he served as lead counsel for former Army private Chelsea Manning.
Chase Strangio
Chase StrangioMolly Kaplan / ACLU

American Civil Liberties Union lawyer Chase Strangio is building a case for trans liberation.

The 34-year-old has worked shoulder-to-shoulder with LGBTQ organizers across the country to fight anti-transgender legislation like North Carolina’s HB2. He was part of the ACLU legal team that sued for transgender high school student Gavin Grimm to use the boys-only facilities in school, and he served as lead counsel for transgender former Army private Chelsea Manning, who was released from Fort Leavenworth prison in May.

Chase Strangio
Chase StrangioMolly Kaplan / ACLU

“I just feel so incredibly privileged to work with my community and to have a job that allows me to meet incredible people across the country who are doing work every day to help keep other trans people alive,” Strangio told NBC Out.

As a lawyer who is transgender himself, Strangio is in a unique position to fight on behalf of his community.

“I share the experience of walking or existing in the world as a trans person, so I can connect my community and utilize my privilege to try to make legible and visible so much of what people go through,” he explained.

Before joining the ACLU, Strangio co-founded the Lorena Borjas Community Fund in 2012 with trans Latina activist Lorena Borjas. The organization provides direct bond assistance to LGBTQ immigrants in criminal and immigration cases. According to Strangio, trans people of color have a history of taking on the legal system “with so few resources,” which inspires him.

“I am just so motivated to do whatever I can to support that work and to use whatever resources I have — whatever platform that I have — to make more space for people to build and dream their vision, which I think are far more transformative than the ones that I could build and implement,” Strangio said.

When he isn’t working or busy raising his 4-year-old daughter, he is writing about his experiences as a trans man. Strangio’s proudest piece, “What is a male body?,” was shared by thousands on social media.

“I really believe in celebrating and complicating our bodies and really recognizing the beauty of trans bodies,” Strangio said.

Fun Fact: "I know every word to every song in 'The Little Mermaid' and often sing it to my kid to annoy her."

Pride Means: "Being proud is about recognizing that we are all differently situated in our struggles for survival and that our respective paths to survival are worthy of being honored and held as beautiful accomplishments in and of themselves. As we celebrate those accomplishments, we must also recognize that our lives are only possible because others struggled differently and harder to breathe life into our movements and existence. The labor, histories and bodies of Black women and femmes created our possibilities to map out movements and existence and only through materially supporting those people and histories can we honor our present movements."

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