P.D. Soros Fellowship for New Americans


Alexander Chen Launches Harvard Law School’s LGBTQ+ Advocacy Clinic

Just five years after Alexander Chen graduated from Harvard Law School, he returned as the school’s new LGBTQ+ Advocacy Clinic’s founding director. In addition to leading the clinic, Alexander will be teaching a course on gender identity and the law at the Law School. The 2014 Paul & Daisy Soros Fellow left his position in California at the National Center for Lesbian Rights, where he was an Equal Justice Works Fellow, in early January of 2020.

“I anticipate that we will be engaged in a mixture of impact litigation, policy advocacy, and direct representation at both the national and local levels, with a particular focus on underrepresented communities within the LGBTQ+ umbrella,” Alexander wrote as he began his new position.

“We are so fortunate to have Alex join HLS—I cannot think of a better person to start the new LGBTQ+ Advocacy Clinic. Alex is already well-known in the national LGBTQ+ advocacy community and will bring his boundless energy, vision, intellect and connectedness to create a clinic that can help shape national movements,” Lisa Dealy, assistant dean of clinical programs at Harvard Law School, explained. “I cannot wait to see all that Alex, his students, his colleagues and advocacy partners will do together as part of the new clinic.”

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    Photo Credit: Lorin Granger

At the National Center for Lesbian Rights, Alexander was focused on expanding the rights of transgender people through impact litigation, policy advocacy, and public education.

Previously, Alexander was a law clerk for the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit and the United States District Court for the Southern District of California.

Alexander, the son of Chinese immigrants, was born in Colorado. He studied English literature at Oxford University and then at Columbia University as a graduate student. At the same time, he was becoming involved in trans activism, and a rift was opening between his public and private worlds. To reconcile the two, Alexander took a multi-disciplinary course at Columbia, Law and the Humanities, which made him realize he wanted a career in civil rights advocacy. He soon started at Harvard Law School to pursue a JD.

At Harvard, Alexander worked to acquire the skills to combine litigation, policy work, and academic research to advance civil rights for trans people. Involved in legal advocacy efforts on campus, he wrote on trans issues for the Harvard Law Review. During the summers, he interned with the Civil Rights Division of the United States Department of Justice, the ACLU LGBT & HIV Project, and at the National Center for Transgender Equality. ∎


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