DANA DEANDRA TURNER, ESQ. LINCOLN - Dana DeAndra Turner, Esq., 56, Transgender Law Scholar and Civil Rights Activist, was admitted to Roosevelt Hospital in New York City on April 26, 2011, with atrial fibrillation and passed in her sleep at 4:11 a.m. on April 28, 2011. Dana Turner uniquely navigated the worlds of civil rights law, public theater activism and computerized research. She was born Oct. 13, 1954, in Gary, Ind., grew up in California and graduated from Georgetown Law School. After working at the Library of Congress she moved to New York City to practice law on behalf of the transgender and HIV+ communities. She used her lively sense of humor, magnetic personality and strategic insight to pioneer the use of public theatre for civil rights activism. This was famously achieved with her organization of, and starring in, the first ever Drag Show on the Mall at the 1992 March on Washington for Gay & Lesbian Rights. She later starred for several years as the "Mz Liberty" persona on behalf of oppressed people in New York City Gay Pride events. Her work for the International Conferences on Transgender Law & Employment Policy helped put the "T" in the GLBT alliance, as well as deepen its sensitivity to issues of race, class and gender. Ms. Turner was an expert in online research, often finding key information that other lawyers missed. She also served on the board of the World Against Racism Foundation, provided legal support to the Sylvia Rivera Law Project and starred in the award-winning 2006 documentary "Cruel & Unusual" about transgender women in men's prisons, several of whom she represented. Her warmth, charm and generosity created a large family of loved ones in Oregon, San Francisco, New York City and beyond. A public visitation will be held at the Terasem Movement Transreligion Ashram at 2 Park Place, in Bristol, Vt. (30 miles south of Burlington on Rte. 116), from Noon to 1 p.m. on June 19, 2011, followed by a 2 p.m. burial at the nearby Maplewood Cemetery in Lincoln. Donations in honor of Dana Turner, Esq. may be sent to the Sylvia Rivera Law Project, 147 W. 24th St., 5th Floor, New York, NY 10011, www.srlp.org.
Published in The Burlington Free Press on June 17, 2011