Toby Adams is a member of the National LGBT Bar Association and the founder and Executive Director of Intersex & Genderqueer Recognition Project (IGRP). She also has a solo practice where she provides alternative-family legal needs to people in the LGBTQ+, poly, and disability communities.
In 2009, Toby attended her first Lavender Law® Conference and Career Fair in Brooklyn, New York, as a law student. She remembers being intimidated by the prospect of finding an internship that was right for her. “I needed a summer internship, but due to having a child with special needs it would be difficult or impossible for me to work full time at an LGBT nonprofit in another city like I wanted to,” she says.
Even with her limited options, Toby was able to find the perfect summer job through a connection at the LGBT Bar’s Lavender Law® Conference. “I was chatting in the lobby of the hotel with a classmate and they said they were about to have lunch with their supervisor from an internship they had done at Advocates for Informed Choice (now called interACT), which was part-time and telecommute,” she recalls. “I went to lunch with them and landed the job, learning a lot about intersex legal issues and gaining a wonderful mentor at that organization.”
Toby initially took the position at Advocates for Informed Choice because it allowed her to balance her professional goals with family life. However, she ended up developing a passion for intersex and transgender rights, wrote a paper called “Strangers to the Law: The Legal Treatment of People Who Are Intersex…”, and became recognized for her work handling name and gender changes for transgender individuals. “As a bisexual person I’ve always felt a strong pull not only to serve the LGBT community, but specifically to work for the rights of the most marginalized within our community.”
After graduating from McGeorge School of Law in 2012, Toby built on the connections she made through Lavender Law® to continue to fight for intersex and transgender legal recognition. “David Strachan, an intersex person whose gender identity is nonbinary, contacted my old supervisor from interACT and asked for help getting a nonbinary ID, birth certificate, or passport,” Toby remembers. She connected with David and together they formed Intersex & Genderqueer Recognition Project (IGRP). “Starting IGRP was the perfect fit for me. Not only is my spouse genderqueer, but three young people in my extended family have come out as nonbinary.” Toby is proud to say that it became “the first and leading organization in the United States to address the rights of people to identify as nonbinary on government issued documents.”
Seven years later, Toby is still the Executive Director of the IGRP, and the organization has grown into an incredible force of political change. “We have been instrumental in getting nonbinary rights in almost a dozen jurisdictions and counting, and together with interACT helped pass a state legislative resolution in support of intersex bodily autonomy,” she says.
Toby credits the LGBT Bar’s Lavender Law® Conference with helping her find the right path. She volunteers at the Conference in the hopes that she can help other young lawyers do the same. “I am doing what I went to law school to do: changing the world. Thanks, Lavender Law, for that first introduction in a hotel lobby 10 years ago.”
We look forward to seeing Toby again at the 2019 Lavender Law® Conference in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania this August 7th through 9th!