Jen OrthweinPride Freedom Award
Pride Freedom Award
For outstanding contributions to advancing civil rights and freedom for LGBTQ people.Jen Orthwein began her career in San Francisco in the late 1990s as a case manager serving people living with HIV. Most of her clients were LGBTQ, and many were stuck in the revolving door between jail and community mental health systems. Her frustration with working within these dysfunctional systems led her to pursue a law degree and a Ph.D. in clinical psychology.
After completing her degrees, Jen practiced as a psychologist in the California prison and state hospital systems, and opened a private forensic consulting practice. However, she found her skill set was more effective in the civil rights arena, so she changed course and began working as a civil rights attorney on legal and policy issues related to transgender and gender variant individuals, particularly those impacted by the criminal justice system. She helped launch, and served as Senior Counsel for, the Detention Project at Transgender Law Center (TLC). Among other advocacy, she assisted in the representation of two California prisoners whose cases were the impetus for access to gender affirming surgery and gender expression for transgender people in California prisons.
Jen continued to maintain her forensic consulting practice providing expert witness testimony and assisting attorneys representing transgender people. She also remained involved with psychological research related to gender as a co-principal investigator for the Transgender Research Consortium (TRC) at Palo Alto University, which provided empirical evidence on the impact of discrimination on transgender people’s physical and mental health.
This past year, Jen and her law partner Felicia Medina, launched Medina Orthwein LLP, a queer owned, public interest civil rights law firm that focuses on fighting employment discrimination and LGBTQ civil rights violations in the criminal justice system. They are currently representing multiple LGBTQ clients, including prisoners and employees in the prison system.