Faculty Post: Bringing Disability Justice to Analysis of Trans* Legal Issues

by Gabriel Arkles, Legal Research and Writing Professor

In 2006, Christina Sforza, a homeless Latina transgender woman, went to a MacDonald’s in NYC with her friends. While there, she used the women’s restroom. Trans women should always be able to use the restroom that matches their gender identity, but in this case she didn’t have an alternative anyway: the men’s room was out of order. Christina even asked an employee which restroom to use and the employee pointed her to the women’s room. Nonetheless, when she was inside it someone began pounding on the door and threatening to kill her unless she came out. When she did, a MacDonald’s manager began beating her with a lead pipe on her chest, groin, head, and arms. Employees began chanting “Kill the faggot!” Christina’s friend called the police. Christina was on the floor bleeding when the police arrived. Still, when her attacker accused her of being a “man in the women’s restroom,” the police arrested Christina rather than her attacker. While the charges against Christina were ultimately dismissed, the police threatened to arrest her again when she tried to make a complaint against her attacker.

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Faculty Post: the Classroom and the State House

by Professor Gabriel Arkles

It may sound cliché, but one of the things that I love about teaching is how much I learn from and with my students. It especially delights me when the work the students do outside the classroom, the work I do outside the classroom, and the work we do together inside the classroom build on and strengthen one another.  Teaching and doing legislative testimony this semester created one of those opportunities.

At Northeastern University School of Law, we work hard to support students as they prepare for contemporary law practice. We know that litigation is an important tool, but far from the only one that lawyers use to protect their clients’ interests and advocate for social change. Thus, after researching and writing a challenging memo about a tort issue from a litigation angle, my students this semester examined related issues from a policy standpoint: they prepared and presented oral and written legislative testimony in a simulated state legislative hearing about a possible end to tort remedies.
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