Many people living in United States, and for various reasons don’t have equal access to government recognized identity documents (IDs). Specifically, undocumented people, homeless people, people with limited mobility, domestic violence survivors, trafficking survivors and other marginalized people experience difficulty engaging in the society due to lack of access to proper identity documents. Monica James and Tanvi K. Sheth, as members of the Working Group on the Municipal ID assisted the Office of the Chicago City Clerk Anna Valencia in creating a unique and inclusive municipal ID benefitting all Chicagoans.


In November 2014, Monica James testified in front of the United Nation’s Committee Against Torture bringing awareness to the unique violence and oppression faced by Black people, and other marginalized communities. In her testimony, she spoke truth to power by highlighting the negative impact and retributive nature of solitary confinement. She is an advocate for limiting the use of solitary confinement in prisons/jails, and the need for criminal justice reform that would support actual rehabilitation.

Liberation. not miss-representation.

Monica James calling on community to stand for actual progress and integration of marginalized people into mainstream society instead of just visibility. Visibility without support is simply making people more vulnerable and open targets for violence.

collateral consequences of felony background - Challenging Name change restrictions

United States has the highest incarceration rate in the world, and it has a disproportionate impact on Black people, people of color, and poor people. Once tagged by a criminal system, a person’s background follows them everywhere, making them vulnerable to social stigma and discrimination. Even after fulfilling the terms of their sentence/punishment, a person with a criminal background is haunted by the collateral consequences of having such a background, making it extremely hard to break the cycle of trauma and violence. One such collateral consequence in Illinois is restrictions to a person’s ability to change their name if they have been convicted of a felony. Tanvi K. Sheth led the legal team in their first attempt to challenge the felony name change restriction in the Illinois Name Change Statute, and joined the Illinois Attorney General in requesting the Court to read “The [Illinois Human Rights Act] and the Illinois Name Change Statute must be read harmoniously to allow the granting of name changes for transgender individuals, regardless of their felony status.”

Monica JAMES & CECE MCDONALD on racism and transmisogyny

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