March 30, 2022
By Elias Fox Schmidt
If/When/How’s Quick Question series highlights the work of our Reproductive Justice Fellows, introducing our network to the incredible advocates who are dedicating their lives to the movement to lawyer for reproductive justice. We’re so proud of the work they’re doing at placement organizations across the country to ensure that everyone can safely decide if, when, and how to create and sustain their families and actualize sexual and reproductive well-being on their own terms. But we can’t support them without you: Please donate $10 to help us give aspiring and new lawyers the resources they need to thrive. And if you can’t give — share!
Elias Fox Schmidt (University at Buffalo School of Law ’22 JD/MSW) is dedicated to bridging the gap between reproductive justice and trans liberation. He is passionate about reproductive justice, trans liberation, anti-racism, anti-imperialism, and trauma-informed lawyering. Elias is a descendant of the Seneca Nation of Indians and prioritizes anti-colonialism and Indigenous sovereignty in all of his work.
During law school, Elias served as a student attorney at the University at Buffalo Civil Rights & Transparency Clinic, working on issues related to fair housing, employment discrimination, government transparency, and police accountability. Additionally, Elias was an Initiative for a Representative First Amendment Fellow with a position at the Harvard Cyberlaw Clinic, where he worked on various tech law issues, including issues relating to video game accessibility, SESTA/FOSTA, and safety for trans people online. Elias also interned at Neighborhood Legal Services, Inc., where he assisted in legal name changes for trans people in Erie and Niagara counties in New York. Elias was very active on campus, serving as the first openly trans President of OUTLaw and the founder and Co-President of his law school’s Native American Law Students Association chapter. Prior to law school, Elias attended Buffalo State College, where he majored in English and minored in Psychology. In his free time, Elias enjoys beading, spending time with his family, and researching transmasculine history.
We asked Elias to tell us a little about himself as he prepares to begin his Reproductive Justice Fellowship year at SPARK Reproductive Justice NOW! in Atlanta, Georgia this fall.
If/When/How: Who are you?
Elias Fox Schmidt: My name is Elias Fox Schmidt, and I use he/him pronouns.
If/When/How: Where are you from?
EFS: I am from Buffalo, New York, located on ancestral Seneca territory. I’ve lived in Western New York my entire life, and it is where I hope to continue my legal work in the future.
If/When/How: Where are you going (literally or existentially)?
EFS: I am going somewhere that makes my family and ancestors proud.
If/When/How: What do you want to change (or what are you changing) about what it means to be a lawyer?
EFS: I’m currently changing what it means to be a lawyer because someone like me having a legal education already begins to defy white supremacist, ableist, and cis-heteronormative systems and ideals within the legal field.
In the reproductive justice field specifically, I am following the transmasculine leaders who have come before me by giving a voice to the reproductive justice needs of transmasculine people. I hope to use my legal education to elevate the voices of transmasculine people of color and disabled transmasculine people, draw attention to and work to address transmasculine reproductive justice needs, and assist in reconciling how we, as trans men and transmasculine people, fit into the broader social and political conversations surrounding reproductive justice topics that generally understood as “(cis) (white) women’s issues.”
If/When/How: When you are not lawyering, what do you get up to?
EFS: When not lawyering, I love spending time with family, reading (except nowadays I actually prefer audiobooks), playing video games, watching anime, beading, researching transmasculine history, and taking care of my cats.
If you’re as excited as we are to see Elias succeed, donate $10 to help If/When/How support new lawyers like him.