Led by Connor Barusch
General Course Description
Do you have transgender or non-binary clients and want to be better at interacting with and advocating for them? Do you not have clients you know to be trans or non-binary but wonder if you could do a better job communicating with them and advocating for them in a client-centered way? This course will help you gain hands-on experience with key skills that will help you have deeper, more comfortable and more client-centered conversations with your transgender or non-binary clients. You will have the opportunity to participate in a small group learning session that will help you turn the skills you hear about during video lectures into practice.
During the last part of the course, you will have the option to bring your own case or project you are working on involving a transgender or non-binary person to workshop or to work with some of the materials in the course.
Course length and time expectations for participants
- Public defenders, social workers, investigators, paralegals or anyone in a public defender office who works with clients
- People who want to learn the basics of working with trans clients.
- People who know the basics of working with trans clients but are learning to be a resource to other public defenders regarding trans clients. (Please let us know if you are in this category - depending on interest we may try to organize a small group specifically for people in this category)
This course will last six weeks. Each week will involve:
- Some course videos and reading to be done at your convenience (~ 1 hour)
- Participate in course online forum (~ 30 minutes)
- Live instruction and small groups ( ~90 minutes)
- During the last week, there will be less video content to review but you will need to spend approximately 2 hours working on a project or workshopping a case to prepare for the small group session.
Note: This class is designed for people who already want to support and affirm their trans and non-binary clients and want to learn how to do it better - it is not a good fit for people who do not already value inclusion.
About the Faculty:
- Participants will be familiar with basic terminology and concepts relating to sexual orientation and gender identity.
- Participants will be able to ask their clients what name and pronouns they would like to use in various situations. Participants will have tried asking at least three people they encounter in their lives outside the training who they do not already know to be trans what pronouns to use for them and will have decreased their anxiety over pronoun use.
- Participants will be familiar with common barriers faced by trans and non-binary clients in the criminal legal system
- Participants will be able to demonstrate and explain at multiple client-centered strategies for addressing disrespect to a transgender person when practicing in a small group
- Participants will understand how to balance confidentiality and disclosure when working with transgender clients
- Participants will able to identify and implement verbal and non-verbal signals that they are open and affirming toward trans, non-binary and LGBQ clients.
- Participants will know what to do when they mistakenly misgender a client, colleague or friend.
- Participants will be able to identify (and hopefully advocate for) at least one way their office could change in order to be more welcoming to trans or non-binary and LGBQ clients.
- Participants will have an introductory ability to incorporate transgender and non-binary issues into storytelling related to a client, witness or other person such as a mitigation argument, closing argument, motion argument or other
Connor Barusch (he/they) is a transgender public defender and pubilc defender trainer in Massachusetts. Barusch developed this course using the decade of experience he has as a public defender working with his own clients as well as consulting with other public defenders in Massachusetts and throughout the country with questions about working with trans and non-binary clients and witnesses and work as a trans activist and trainer since 2003.
Comments from past participants
The videos are great and helpful. I love how they aren't super long, but yet quite in depth. It's awesome to hear from both you and other voices.
I am loving the small groups. This material is really important and engaging but I'm a kinesthetic learner and I don't fully "get" something until I practice it. So thank you for allowing us a safe space to practice these important skills!
Barusch's training videos are particularly useful. I enjoy that we work on skills in class. I feel like I'm starting to build a toolkit.
I think everyone should take this course, whether or not they think they have trans/gnc clients. It's incredibly important if they are working in the field of public defense, both for supporting their clients and coworkers.
This is a great course to help you have a place to tackle and learn how to address trans clients. I think a lot of the great things about this class involve having the ability to practice scenarios and learn from other attorneys on how they manage and interact with clients.
Even if you're busy, you probably have the time for this course. It's not a drain. You'll be more attentive to the ways both you and your workplace are not inclusive and tangible improvements you can make. I sincerely think the ability to develop the skills taught in this class could make the difference between succeeding in and failing to represent someone fully.
My favorite part is the videos from trans people's perspectives. It helps to hear a first person narrative and it also makes me feel less creepy about talking about other people's identities when I know they have agreed to make these videos.
This course will prepare you to be a better legal advocate not only for Transgender and Non-Binary clients but for all clients During this course I have learned about not only being a better legal advocate for clients but also questioning gender binary within the carceral system and thinking about ideas to dismantle the gender binary in our representation of clients while questing the ways the gender binary has harmed all of our client's lives and also bring practices and ideas to my office to better make it an inclusive space for employees of all genders. I think this course has highlighted the importance of practicing and learning how to apologize when one messes up. I have also met brilliant legal workers from across the country who are committed to learning and being zealous advocates.
This course really allows folks to explore real life scenarios that may happen when you have transgender clients. You learn the language of inclusion and the know how to take this into the courts for our clients.