Washington Lawyer - September/October 2020 - 46

MEMBER SPOTLIGHT

Whit Washington

Advocate for Trans Prisoner Rights
By John Murph
gender identity, gender expression, and gender
experience, I was really able to play with and
understand better the different ways that
I could express myself. To some extent, I had
been experimenting with it when I started law
school - just realizing that presenting myself
as female wasn't necessarily comfortable for
me. It was my time at the Transgender Law
Center that I learned the language of how to
express how I identified."
It was also where Washington's passion for
advocating for better treatment of transgender
people in prison ignited. Before that internship,
Washington studied women and the law at
American University, which expounded
women's treatment in jails and prisons.
"Through that, I became very interested in
advocating for folks in prison, but I realized
that when I was thinking about women in
prison, I was thinking of cis-women," says
Washington.

Growing up in Lynnfield, Massachusetts,
Washington was assigned as female at birth and
socialized as such. "But it never quite felt right,"
Washington says. "I always felt like I didn't fit in
with my female peers. I assumed it was because
of my race or socioeconomics compared to my
classmates."

Incarcerated individuals write letters to PTIS for
help. In turn, PTIS writes advocacy letters to the
prison on their behalf. "There's a lot of back and
forth that happens to ensure that we get their
stories and sufficient details before we send
the advocacy letters to the facilities," says
Washington.

"The summer that I worked at Transgender Law
Center and was exposed to such a diversity of

The advocacy letters are sent to the facilities
before a claim of illegal mistreatment is filed

Elizabeth Thompson

Washington says interning at the Transgender
Law Center in Oakland, California, in 2016 also
provided them the tools to express their gender
identity as non-binary/gender non-conforming.
"I've been in very progressive cities and environments, so I was given a lot of space to work
through, understand, and identify my gender,"
says Washington.

As an Equal Justice Works fellow, Washington
created PTIS in October 2017. PTIS focuses
on the needs of transgender and gender
non-conforming people in prison whose
medical requirements and safety are not being
addressed by their facilities. American University
Washington College of Law hosted PTIS, while
the nonprofit group Equal Justice Works
connected Washington with a funder that
paid their salary for two years. (The Equal
Justice Works fellowship has since ended,
and Washington has yet to secure additional
funding. They continue to work as project
manager in a pro bono capacity for 20 hours
a week with the help of 14 volunteers.)

F

or Whitney (Whit) Washington,
law is a canvas for creativity.
"What I love about law is how
much room there is for creativity
and forward thinking in how we're
addressing the needs and rights of
individuals," Washington says.
In launching the Project for Transgender
Incarcerated Survivors (PTIS) and through their
work as a criminal justice reform consultant for
the National Center for Transgender Equality
(NCTE), Washington - who prefers the
pronouns "they/their/them" - uses the law
as a mechanism to advocate for human rights
for the transgender community.

46 WASHINGTON LAWYER

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SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2020



Washington Lawyer - September/October 2020

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Washington Lawyer - September/October 2020

Digital Extras
Your Voice
From Our President
Practice Management
ABA Delegates Corner
Calendar of Events
Re-Envisioning the Bar Exam feature
The New Normal in Legal Education feature
On Shaky Ground feature
How the Pandemic Has Transformed Courts Feature
The Science of Why Clients Ignore Counsel's Advice feature
Taking the Stand
On Further Review
The Learning Curve
Member Spotlight - Susan Biniaz
Member Spotlight - Whit Washington
Worth Reading
Attorney Briefs
Disciplinary Summaries
Speaking of Ethics
Pro Bono Effect
A Slice of Wry
Washington Lawyer - September/October 2020 - Cover1
Washington Lawyer - September/October 2020 - Cover2
Washington Lawyer - September/October 2020 - 1
Washington Lawyer - September/October 2020 - 2
Washington Lawyer - September/October 2020 - 3
Washington Lawyer - September/October 2020 - Digital Extras
Washington Lawyer - September/October 2020 - Your Voice
Washington Lawyer - September/October 2020 - From Our President
Washington Lawyer - September/October 2020 - 7
Washington Lawyer - September/October 2020 - Practice Management
Washington Lawyer - September/October 2020 - 9
Washington Lawyer - September/October 2020 - ABA Delegates Corner
Washington Lawyer - September/October 2020 - Calendar of Events
Washington Lawyer - September/October 2020 - Re-Envisioning the Bar Exam feature
Washington Lawyer - September/October 2020 - 13
Washington Lawyer - September/October 2020 - 14
Washington Lawyer - September/October 2020 - 15
Washington Lawyer - September/October 2020 - 16
Washington Lawyer - September/October 2020 - 17
Washington Lawyer - September/October 2020 - The New Normal in Legal Education feature
Washington Lawyer - September/October 2020 - 19
Washington Lawyer - September/October 2020 - 20
Washington Lawyer - September/October 2020 - 21
Washington Lawyer - September/October 2020 - On Shaky Ground feature
Washington Lawyer - September/October 2020 - 23
Washington Lawyer - September/October 2020 - 24
Washington Lawyer - September/October 2020 - 25
Washington Lawyer - September/October 2020 - How the Pandemic Has Transformed Courts Feature
Washington Lawyer - September/October 2020 - 27
Washington Lawyer - September/October 2020 - 28
Washington Lawyer - September/October 2020 - 29
Washington Lawyer - September/October 2020 - 30
Washington Lawyer - September/October 2020 - 31
Washington Lawyer - September/October 2020 - The Science of Why Clients Ignore Counsel's Advice feature
Washington Lawyer - September/October 2020 - 33
Washington Lawyer - September/October 2020 - 34
Washington Lawyer - September/October 2020 - 35
Washington Lawyer - September/October 2020 - 36
Washington Lawyer - September/October 2020 - 37
Washington Lawyer - September/October 2020 - Taking the Stand
Washington Lawyer - September/October 2020 - 39
Washington Lawyer - September/October 2020 - On Further Review
Washington Lawyer - September/October 2020 - 41
Washington Lawyer - September/October 2020 - The Learning Curve
Washington Lawyer - September/October 2020 - 43
Washington Lawyer - September/October 2020 - Member Spotlight - Susan Biniaz
Washington Lawyer - September/October 2020 - 45
Washington Lawyer - September/October 2020 - Member Spotlight - Whit Washington
Washington Lawyer - September/October 2020 - 47
Washington Lawyer - September/October 2020 - Worth Reading
Washington Lawyer - September/October 2020 - 49
Washington Lawyer - September/October 2020 - 50
Washington Lawyer - September/October 2020 - Disciplinary Summaries
Washington Lawyer - September/October 2020 - Speaking of Ethics
Washington Lawyer - September/October 2020 - 53
Washington Lawyer - September/October 2020 - Pro Bono Effect
Washington Lawyer - September/October 2020 - 55
Washington Lawyer - September/October 2020 - A Slice of Wry
Washington Lawyer - September/October 2020 - Cover3
Washington Lawyer - September/October 2020 - Cover4
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