M. Dru Levasseur
M. Dru Levasseur is the Transgender Rights Project National Director for Lambda Legal, the oldest and largest national legal organization committed to achieving full recognition of the civil rights of lesbians, gay men, bisexuals, transgender people and people with HIV. At a critical moment in history for advancing the civil rights of transgender people, Levasseur is leading Lambda Legal’s transgender rights work through strategy development, impact litigation, advocacy, and community education.
Under Levasseur’s leadership, Lambda Legal’s transgender rights docket has more than tripled, integrating transgender rights across all areas of work, including health care, employment, education, criminal justice, housing and family law. Levasseur represented Robina Asti, a 92-year-old WWII veteran, in a successful challenge to the Social Security Administration, leading to clarified policy for fairly processing survivor’s benefits. In McCreery v. Don’s Valley Market, he secured a landmark settlement before the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission for a transgender woman fired after transitioning in the workplace. He was co-counsel in Esquivel v. Oregon, resulting in the removal of discriminatory restrictions on transition-related health care for all transgender employees of the State of Oregon, and in Fields v. Smith, a federal case successfully challenging a discriminatory Wisconsin law barring its Department of Corrections from providing medically necessary care for transgender inmates.
Levasseur was instrumental in the development and creation of Lambda Legal’s Transgender Rights Project and helped generate Lambda Legal’s most popular legal educational publication, the Trans Toolkit. He led coalition work to publish the first trans-affirming model hospital policy with the New York City Bar and Human Rights Campaign that has been well-received nationally by hospitals and used by government officials. A thought leader on cutting-edge issues, Levasseur authored “Gender Identity Defines Sex: Updating the Law to Reflect Modern Medical Science Is Key to Transgender Rights,” published by Vermont Law Review and excerpted in Love Unites Us, highlighting the future of LGBT rights.
As lead on Lambda Legal’s transgender rights advocacy efforts, Levasseur participated in the first transgender policy meeting at the White House and meets regularly with key federal, state and local officials, advising on development and implementation of policy. He is a highly sought-after speaker for law schools, such as Yale, Harvard, NYU and Cornell; LGBT conferences; national legal and medical conferences, including the National Association of College and University Attorneys Annual Conference, Fair Housing and Civil Rights Conference, Gay and Lesbian Medical Association Health Conference; and human rights conferences, including the World Professional Association for Transgender Health, Amnesty International, LGBTT Health Summit of Puerto Rico and the World Health Organization in Geneva, Switzerland.
Levasseur regularly appears in high-profile national and international news media, including NY Times, Associated Press, Reuters, People Magazine, and CBS. His leadership has been recognized through many honors and awards from institutions such as National LGBT Bar Association, Trans 100, City Bar of New York, Brooklyn Law School OUTLaws, and Connecticut TransAdvocacy Coalition.
Levasseur is co-founder and former vice president of the Jim Collins Foundation, the only national nonprofit funding gender-affirming surgeries, and he serves as a professional mentor for emerging leaders in the legal field and beyond. Prior to joining Lambda Legal, Levasseur served as the first staff attorney for Transgender Legal Defense & Education Fund and served for two years as law clerk to 12 Justices of the Massachusetts Superior Court. He received his bachelor's degree magna cum laude in Women, Sexuality and Gender Studies from the University of Massachusetts, and his law degree from Western New England University School of Law. He is member of the New York Bar.