SPRINGFIELD — Staff Attorney Jessica Marcellino of Western New England University School of Law’s Center for Social Justice will join a panel of local service providers on Thursday, March 31 in a virtual discussion presented by the Women’s Fund. “Wait … What?! International Transgender Day of Visibility” will reveal important and affordable services for trans and gender-diverse communities in Western Mass.
Marcellino is the founder of GAIP, the Gender Affirming Identification Project, which is the newest project of the Center for Social Justice.
“The center is honored to be able to contribute to the LGBTQ+ community in such an essential way,” Marcellino said. “Unfortunately, many in the LGBTQ+ community face significant barriers to obtaining something as fundamental as accurate government identification. The center recognized this need, and that was the impetus behind GAIP.”
The Gender Affirming Identification Project is a pro bono legal program that provides comprehensive guidance to people seeking gender-affirming legal services and assists Massachusetts adult residents seeking gender-affirming changes to their state and federal identification documents. In addition, GAIP is able to assist with non-legal recommendations for gender-affirming-related services, such as access to health insurance or finding a primary-care physician. Outreach and resources are focused on Hampden, Hampshire, Franklin, and Berkshire counties.
Marcellino joined the center in March 2021 and graduated from WNE Law School in 2012 as a public-interest scholar. Her law-school and professional experience has centered on assisting those in need, including positions with CPCS public defenders in the Springfield Superior Court, as a law clerk for the Springfield Housing Authority, and as counsel at a private injury firm in Springfield for seven years prior to joining the center. She currently serves as co-chair of the Access to Justice Commission’s consumer-debt subcommittee. She oversees the Center for Social Justice’s client-facing initiatives and serves as the lead attorney of each of the center’s free legal-services programs.
“We are excited to help those in need, and we have pro bono legal volunteers and attorneys ready to assist,” Marcellino added. The GAIP is made possible by the support of the Gervino-Ward LGBTQ+ annual summer stipend.
Since its launch in 2019, the Center for Social Justice has achieved success in its mission to advance justice through research, education, advocacy, innovation, and public engagement. The center’s pro bono initiatives assist marginalized and underserved, BIPOC, low-income, women, LBGTQ+, and immigrant communities.