Activist, author, and attorney Pooja Gehi is known for her work in the areas of immigrant, racial, transformative, and social justice, as well as LGBTQ+ issues and civil rights. She earned her bachelor’s degrees in sociology and art history from New College of Florida, her master’s degree in international politics from American University, and her JD from American University Washington College of Law, where she was board chair of the school’s National Lawyers Guild chapter.
From 2006 to 2014, Gehi served as first a staff attorney and then the director of immigrant justice at the Sylvia Rivera Law Project, a nonprofit organization that works to guarantee all people the ability to self-determine their gender identity and expression, regardless of income or race, without fear of harassment, discrimination, or violence. Seeking to ehance the political voice and visibility of low-income individuals and people of color who are transgender, intersex, or gender nonconforming, SRLP aims to improve access to respectful and affirming social, health, and legal services for the people in these communities. While with SRLP, Gehi represented hundreds of low-income transgender and gender-nonconforming clients through administrative hearings, immigration proceedings, civil litigation, and prisoners’ rights cases, achieving notable victories such as access to gender-affirming health care for recipients of Medicaid in New York.
In 2015, Gehi was named executive director of the National Lawyers Guild, the nation’s oldest and largest progressive bar association, which was established in 1937 to help reconstruct legal values to emphasize human rights over property rights. During her tenure, Gehi helped quadruple the group’s membership. She stepped down from her leadership role at NLG in late 2020 to focus on her writing and lawyering for social justice.
Through her impactful work, Gehi has served hundreds of diverse and marginalized individuals, including immigrants, the LGBTQ+ community, low-income individuals, and people of color. Her scholarly writing focuses on topics involving the intersections of race, gender, sexuality, class, and nationality, as well as social movements and the criminal justice and immigration system. She has authored and coauthored many works including Unraveling Injustice: Race and Class Impact of Medicaid Exclusions of Transition-Related HealthCare for Transgender People, The Role of Lawyers in Trans Liberation: Building a Transformative Movement for Social Change, and Struggles from the Margins: Anti-Immigrant Legislation and the Impact on Low-Income Transgender People of Color.