July 12, 2016
TLDEF Names Jillian T. Weiss Executive Director
New York, NY - Transgender Legal Defense & Education Fund (TLDEF) today announced the appointment of Jillian T. Weiss as its new Executive Director. Weiss is a nationally recognized transgender rights attorney and law professor who brings three decades of legal experience to the post. Weiss succeeds Michael Silverman, who founded the organization in 2003.
“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,” said Alaina Kupec and Joseph A. Hall, co-chairs, TLDEF Board of Directors. “Jillian 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. She is the perfect individual to assume TLDEF’s leadership mantle at this critical moment in our history. We are grateful that she has accepted the challenge and look forward to working with her as we advance TLDEF’s mission.”
TLDEF works to achieve transgender equality through litigation, education and shaping public policy. Under Michael Silverman’s leadership, TLDEF launched successful advocacy efforts on issues involving access to health care, the rights of transgender people to use restrooms without discrimination, the rights of transgender students to attend school free from discrimination, and the rights of transgender people to obtain government-issued ID that matches their gender identity.
“Jillian is a tremendous advocate for transgender equality with an extraordinary list of transgender rights accomplishments,” said Silverman. “She brings the exact qualities necessary to lead TLDEF into the next decade. I am confident the organization is in good hands with Jillian at the helm.”
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. 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 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.
“I have dedicated my career to fighting for the rights of the trans community through my legal and academic work,” said Weiss. “At a time when our community faces an all-out legislative assault focused on issues like bathroom access, I am committed to ensuring that all trans people have the freedom to live authentic lives. As a transgender woman myself, I have experienced discrimination first hand. I am determined to combat 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. I am honored to bring the totality of my experience to bear as TLDEF’s new Executive Director.”
Weiss 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. She begins her new role today. Michael Silverman will assist in the leadership transition.