Simone Chriss is a civil rights attorney who began working for the non-profit public interest organization Southern Legal Counsel (SLC) after graduating from the University of Florida Levin College of Law, where she received her J.D. with honors. Chriss is the Director of the organizations’ Transgender Rights Initiative, developed by SLC to fill a gap in access to justice by systemically providing assistance to the transgender community in areas such as access to name and gender marker changes, obtaining accurate IDs, representation in educational proceedings, protection from discriminatory policies, and more. She conducts LGBTQ+ cultural competency trainings and transgender rights trainings statewide and nationally, and presents transgender name and gender marker change workshops throughout Florida. She is currently lead counsel on a federal lawsuit challenging the discriminatory exclusion of gender-affirming healthcare coverage for all transgender state of Florida employees.
Chriss works statewide to ensure all LGBTQ+ students in Florida have access to a safe and affirming learning environment. Chriss has authored a series of “Legal Notes” which are distributed by our partner, Equality Florida, to leadership in all 67 school districts to inform the districts of their legal obligations to protect and support LGBTQ+ students, and to empower youth and parents to self-advocate. The collaboration has resulted in tremendous success for students across the state in obtaining access to bathrooms aligned with their gender identity, consistent use of affirmed name and pronouns, and much more. Chriss also works with the UF Health Youth Gender Program through a Medical Legal Partnership (“MLP”) to screen transgender youth and families for social determinants of health and provides assistance to address health harming legal needs.
Chriss utilizes federal impact litigation, policy advocacy, and community education/training to bring about systemic reform in the areas of LGBTQ+ rights, child welfare, implementing trauma-informed services, ending the criminalization of homelessness, and special education. Chriss serves as an Attorney ad Litem for the Eighth Judicial Circuit’s registry for dependent children with special needs. She is a member of The Florida Bar, and the bars of the U.S. Northern, Middle, and Southern District Courts of Florida. Chriss is a member of the Executive Council of the Public Interest Law Section of the Florida Bar, as well as the Section’s Children’s Rights Committee and Advocacy Committee, and she was appointed to the Florida Bar’s Standing Committee on Diversity and Inclusion. Chriss is a member of the National LGBTQ+ Bar Association, and was recently selected by the National LGBTQ+ Bar as one of the “40 Best LGBTQ+ Lawyers Under 40” for 2022.