Tabytha Gonzalez, Office Manager
Tabytha Gonzalez has 16 years of experience in office management. While attending Berkeley College for her BA in business management, she worked as a teacher's assistant with the deaf and hearing impaired community. She's a very passionate liason for Exponents Arrive/Drug Treatment. She also has community ties to other organizations such as Destination Tomorrow and CK Life. She's very happy to join TLDEF and help further the vision of TLDEF.
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Amy Helfant, Name Change Project Coordinator
Amy is 2016 graduate of the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law, with concentrations in Constitutional Law & Rights and Criminal Justice, and is currently pending admission in New York. While in law school, Amy took part in the Cardozo Civil Rights Clinic, where she assisted in the representation of an incarcerated transgender woman in the Court of Claims and the Southern District of New York, and the Gertrud Mainzer Family Defense Field Clinic, where she defended parents against allegations of child abuse and neglect. She served as a Fellow for Cardozo’s Public Service Scholars program, and was on the board of the school’s National Lawyers Guild chapter. During her law school summers, Amy interned with the Family Defense Practice at The Bronx Defenders and the Sylvia Rivera Law Project. Prior to law school, Amy received a BFA in Textiles from the Rhode Island School of Design.
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Rita Renner, Bookkeeper
Rita is TLDEF’s bookkeeper. She also works as a bookkeeper for other non-profit organizations and teaches QuickBooks. Prior to joining TLDEF, she was in charge of accounts payable and payroll for the town of Darien, CT and then used her masters degree in music education to teach. She taught band and orchestra for over ten years before playing the trombone for national Broadway tours and on cruise ships. Rita settled in New York City in 2000 and has been performing as both an instrumentalist and actor. She is a past president of Crossdressers International and is an avid supporter of TLDEF.
Melissa Sklarz, Director of Development
Melissa Sklarz ran as a Judicial Delegate in Greenwich Village in 1999. She won and became the first trans elected official in New York. Melissa has served as the President of Stonewall Democrats of NYC and Gay and Lesbian Independent Democrats. She has served on the Board and as Board Co-Chair of Empire State Pride Agenda and National Stonewall Democrats. Melissa has been part of the New York delegation of the last four Democratic National Conventions, including being a delegate in 2016. She has worked with NYPD, Hetrick Martin Institute, and SAGE as adviser or trans community representative. She is currently a Commissioner of the NY State Committee helping to create a memorial for the Orlando Nightclub Massacre, appointed by Governor Cuomo. She worked 19 years as a Director at Actors Federal Credit Union.
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Jillian Weiss, Executive Director
Jillian T. Weiss is a nationally recognized transgender rights attorney and law professor with three decades of legal experience. Jillian has a powerful track record of fighting for the rights of transgender people in the workplace. Her cases have resulted in landmark settlements and rulings increasing protections for transgender employees and sending an unmistakable message that employment bias will not be tolerated. She is also one of the nation’s preeminent transgender discrimination scholars who keenly understands the power of the courts and progressive government in achieving transgender equality under the law.
Prior to her appointment, Weiss was a tenured Professor of Law and Society at Ramapo College of New Jersey and the founder of the Law Office of Jillian T. Weiss P.C. She has a Ph.D. in Law, Policy and Society from Northeastern University and a J.D. from Seton Hall Law School, as well as a B.A. in Classics from Yeshiva University. Among her milestone cases are Jamal v. Saks & Co., an employment discrimination case against Saks Fifth Avenue, and Chavez v. Credit Nation Auto Sales, LLC, in which the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit ruled that a transgender woman may take her employment discrimination case against a Georgia auto sales company to trial.
In 2014, the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission chose her client’s case as the first of two to be litigated by the Commission on behalf of a transgender employee. EEOC v. Lakeland Eye Clinic, PA, resulted in a six-figure settlement. The Department of Justice followed suit in March 2015, in the case of US v. Southeastern Oklahoma State University, which is pending in an Oklahoma federal court. In addition, Weiss and the EEOC brought a transgender employment discrimination lawsuit against Deluxe Financial Services, Inc., one of the nation’s largest check-printing companies. The suit resulted in a large settlement and sweeping workplace policy changes at the company.
Jillian is a past board member of Lambda Legal, has been Chair of the annual Trans Law Symposium, and has consulted with private and public organizations regarding gender identity policy and employee gender transitions, including Harvard University, Boeing and New York City.
Jillian is committed to dismantling the systemic discrimination that inordinately burdens trans people, particularly people of color and others caught at the intersection of multiple forms of prejudice, such as race, class and gender bias.
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Ezra Young, Director of Impact Litigation
Ezra is TLDEF’s Director of Impact Litigation. His work centers on trans rights, with a focus on rights of recognition, employment protections, and health care and insurance coverage issues.
Ezra has represented trans clients in several ground-breaking Title VII cases, including: Jamal v. Saks, Chavez v. Credit Nation Auto Sales, EEOC v. Deluxe Financial Services, EEOC v. Lakeland Eye Clinic, and United States et al. v. Southeastern Oklahoma State University et al.. Ezra has also represented trans clients in administrative actions across the country, including appeals cases seeking coverage for transition related medical care. In early 2016, Ezra won an appeals case before the Medicare Appeals Council, the first case in which the Council ordered a health plan to cover vaginal reconstruction surgery for a transgender woman.
Ezra received a BA in Philosophy from Cornell University. Ezra received his JD from Columbia Law School. While in law school, Ezra was Executive Managing Editor of the Columbia Journal of Gender and Law and Online & Consulting Editor of the Columbia Journal of Race and Law.
Ezra served as Post Doctoral Scholar at Columbia Law School from 2012 to 2014, focussing on trans rights, critical race theory, and intersectionality; Ezra’s studies were supervised by Professor Kimberlé Crenshaw. Concurrently, Ezra served as research director of the Columbia Center for Intersectionality and Social Policy Studies and legal director of the African American Policy Forum.
Prior to joining TLDEF, Ezra was an associate at the Law Firm of Jillian T. Weiss, P.C.
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