Alumnus shares experience, advice during Diversity Week event

By Scott R. Horn, 3P
Stetson University College of Law

Nathan Bruemmer
Nathan Bruemmer

Nathan Bruemmer, the Legislative Director for the Florida LGBTQ+ Democratic Caucus and a Stetson Law alumnus, spoke March 2 as part of Diversity Week in a session hosted by Lambda Legal Society and the Stetson Law Democrats.

Bruemmer, a trans man who served as president of Lambda during his time on Stetson’s campus, spoke about his experiences lobbying the Florida Legislature on LGBTQ+ issues.

Just a few hours before the event, a pair of bills had been filed in the legislature that would effectively ban trans women from participating in women’s school sports (HB1475 and SB2012). Another bill, filed in the House but not yet the Senate, would criminalize doctors who provide affirming care to transgender youth (HB935). Though disappointed, Bruemmer refused to let the negativity affect him.

“Telling a personal story can change hearts and minds,” he told his audience. “You can make a world of difference in just a short period of time.”

He was referring to lobbying activities, when groups often have less than ten minutes to present their case to members of the state legislature; at times, they don’t even meet with a legislator, but one of their aides. Sometimes these legislators are hostile to their requests. Still, he described how rewarding it is to see progress when it happens.

Bruemmer also discussed the importance of intersectionality.

“There are a number of marginalized groups that have created a conversation in the last year.”

These groups often have intersecting interests that allow them to serve as allies to each other. For those seeking to use their privilege to help marginalized groups, he talked about the difficulty of moving from allyship to accomplice. In the world of lobbying, the people who are the most diverse are often asking those who are the least diverse to protect them.

For current students looking into this sort of work, he recommended taking a few administrative law classes, as that mindset can help students interpret and understand legislation. Contract law can also provide the framework for understanding how vague legislation can have a real effect on people. He also stressed how important it is to sometimes step back to protect your own health when doing such emotional work, especially when the issues affect you personally.

There’s still a lot of work to be done, the day’s anti-transgender bills a prime example of the continuing struggle. There’s also a lot of weakness in Florida law, especially in the realms of property and family law because many statutes still refer to opposite-sex couples solely – leaving protections for same-sex couples lacking. Unfortunately, a significant portion of Florida’s legislators don’t hold the same belief in equality.

Still, Bruemmer emphasized the most important parts of advocacy.

“We have shown ways, especially this year, in how we’re stronger together. Celebrate the wins. Make sure you provide hope and carry it forward.”