The advice, adventures, and anecdotes of a transgender first year law student...

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Preparing for the First Year

If you're not yet in, or are considering law school, do yourself a favor: do NOT let your summer months go to waste. It might seem like this is the time to relax; I mean, you're already in law school, right? Wrong. You're in school, yes, but, if you're like me, you have hopes to make law review, graduate in the top 10% and distinguish yourself as a student as well as a future attorney. In order to do all this, and more, you must prepare. Consider law school like a marathon: start training now, and running the race won't be nearly as taxing, and hey, you might even place! Also, as a transgender student, it will pay to know what you're facing long before it hits you. So here are a few tips (mind you, I have more tips, and I will probably be updating these as my first year begins):

1. Get your ducks in a row: This means financially, emotionally, medically, and everything in between. If you're a Trans-person and considering, or in the middle of transitioning, make sure you have a doctor (medical and therapist) in the area of your law school, make sure your papers (name change, etc) are in order, find your local pharmacy. If you enrolled in school with a different name or gender/sex status, make sure you contact to school early. This will avoid embarrassment, confusion, and all other manner of problems. If you're nervous about bathroom use, ask your administration about gender-neutral bathrooms on campus. Also, make sure your financial aid is all taken care of as early as possible. Trust me, worrying about financial aid come September is not only stressful for you, but for your school as well.

2. Well begun is half done: Although Aristotle was the first to use this term, I somehow always think of Marry Poppins. It doesn't matter who said it, because it's true. Contact a 2L (second year) and find out what your first semester classes are likely to be (most likely some combination of Civil Procedure, Contracts, Torts, Constitutional Law, Criminal Law, Legal Research/Writing, and Property). Don't worry about your second semester just yet: let's focus on what's coming up in the near future. Do you know who your professors are? What are their exams like (your library should have copies of professors old exams)? Look them up on : what are other students saying about your professors? Also, do you have a summer assignment? Find out sooner rather than later.

3. Read: Yes, you'll be doing a LOT of reading the next three years. You might as well start now. Start with some general reading about law school. Talk to any 2L, 3L or recent law school graduate for some suggestions. There are a vast number of books out there, so do some research and find one that's best for you. Also, get books on the classes you will have first semester. For example, you might have Civ Pro (Civil Procedure), Con Law (Constitutional Law) and Torts. Start reading up on those topics (I’m reading the Examples and Explanations series by Aspen Law, and have enjoyed them), so that you go into your first day of class not looking like Elle Woods (“malum in se?”).

4. Accessorize: Do you have everything you need? Pens, highlighters, sticky notes, computer, laptop bag, etc etc. Get it now; because once you start school, I doubt a trip to Staples or Best Buy will seem like a fun trip. Or, if you order online, do it early, to make sure you have the things you need for your first day (this goes for books too!).

That’s all for now. Keep in mind, I’m a 1L myself (class of 2012): these are only things that I’ve observed on my own. If you have any advice that I’ve left out, please let me know! I’m sure there are things that I’ve neglected to mention, haven’t even discovered for myself or, you might disagree about something here…let me know! I’m happy to listen to all advice. Thanks everyone!

Happy Studies!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009


Well, here I am, starting a blog of my very own: why not, right? The chances of me keeping up with this? Only time will tell, but I figure if I START it, I might just be more likely to commit to it (maybe).

So, an introduction: I am a Trans-identified (GenderQueer/Third Gender), activist, speaker, and first year law student. I'm not going to identify which school I am attending; suffice to say that I am a student at a law school in New England. I work with a non-profit organization known as TransMentors International Inc (TMII), which provides mentors to Trans people who need them. I am happily married to my beautiful wife, whose kindness and patience I'm sure will be the only things sustaining me over the next three years.

Now, we've covered the "who" aspect; moving on to the "why." The Trans community has been a driving force in my life for several years now: through my undergraduate years, my years as a speaker and activist, etc. So, needless to say, going to law school I figured I would find a sense of community in Trans law students. Maybe I'm looking in all the wrong places, or I'm just imagining it, but, while I find many Trans lawyers, I'm not finding a whole lot of Trans-identified law STUDENTS. Thus, I figured I would write a blog with this group in mind. Law school is scary, irreguardless of gender identity; but add in the fear of Trans-phobia with the fear of the Socratic method, and you have the potential for a down right terrifying experiance. But, just remember, you're not alone! There are others who are just as scared as you (you're looking at one), and together, we can get through this. If you're a Trans law student (any year), or you are considering law school, please feel free to drop me a note. Thanks everyone!

Happy Studies!