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Berry Institute of Politics Fellow: Jennifer L. Levi

Spring 2022

About Jennifer L. Levi

Jennifer L. Levi is a lawyer, a professor, and a nationally recognized expert on transgender legal issues who has dedicated their career to fighting for the rights of women; children; the poor; and gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) clients. Currently, Levi serves as the director of the Transgender Rights Project for the GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders (GLAD) and as professor of law at Western New England University. Throughout their career, Levi has led legal fights for transgender equality across a range of contexts including in the areas of family law, education, health care, incarceration, military service, and beyond.

Levi led the legal fight against President Trump’s transgender military ban in two federal court cases and secured a court order preventing it from going into effect for nearly 2 years. Levi’s work laid the groundwork for the current open service policy under which thousands of transgender people currently serve across the Armed Forces. Levi also brought and won the first case on behalf of a transgender girl unfairly excluded from her Massachusetts public school for dressing consistently with her female gender identity. They also represented a transgender girl in a case establishing, again for the first time, the right of a student to the equal enjoyment of school facilities and programs including use of the girls’ bathroom. 

Levi has worked on many cases in the area of family law establishing equal dignity and securing protections for queer families. Levi was co-counsel in two landmark marriage equality cases, winning the freedom to marry for same-sex couples in Massachusetts (Goodridge v. Department of Public Health, 2003) and Connecticut (Kerrigan v. Department of Public Health, 2008) including having argued the Massachusetts marriage case in the trial court.  

Levi is co-editor of Transgender Family Law: A Guide to Effective Advocacy (2012), and serves on the Legal Committee of the World Professional Association for Transgender Health. She is a graduate of the University of Chicago Law School having served on the Law Review and a former law clerk to the Honorable Judge Michael Boudin at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit.


Berry IOP Fellowship | Spring 2022

Jennifer L. Levi visited campus multiple times throughout the semester to share their knowledge, skills, and experiences with students interested in law, advocacy, and LGBTQ+ issues. While on campus, they visited classes, hosted office hours, facilitated meals with students, and coordinated speaker/workshop events. Below are some highlights from their fellowship.

  • Fulfilling Family Equality through the Massachusetts Parentage Act featuring Patience Crozier, Senior Staff Attorney at GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders (GLAD); Julian Cyr, Massachusetts State Senator & Co-Sponsor of the Massachusetts Parentage Act; Emily McGranachan, Director of Corporate and Foundation Relations at Family Equality; and a local youth activist

  • Mass Incarceration: Advocating for LGBTQI+ People featuring Michael Cox, Executive Director of Black & Pink Massachusetts; Sheriff Patrick Cahillane, Sheriff of Hampshire County, Massachusetts; and Dee Farmer, Director of Fight-4-Justice and the first transgender plaintiff to bring a case to the US Supreme Court

  • Meetings with the Civic Fellowship and the Alliance, Salem State’s LGBTQIA+ student organization

  • Lunch & Learns focused on the Equality Act and recent anti-LGBTQ legislation

  • Let’s talk about Law School: A Q&A with Local Lawyers hosted by Salem State’s Pre-Law Society


Disclaimer: This information is accurate for the time period that this person was affiliated with the Berry Institute of Politics.


Learn more about the Frederick E. Berry Institute of Politics at Salem State University.

Frederick E. Berry Institute of Politics
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