The Center for Growing Justice
The Center for Growing Justice was founded in 2014, in the immediate aftermath of the Ferguson Uprising, by St. Louis based community organizers and civil rights attorneys, in partnership with the National Lawyers Guild.
Originally named "The Project for Law Enforcement Accountability for Justice" (or "PLEA for Justice"), we formally changed our name in 2019 to "The Center for Growing Justice" to reflect our expanding scope of work, including providing free legal support and social services to immigrants and LGBTQ St. Louisans during the Trump Administration.
In late 2022, we began the process of an organizational restructuring. Following volunteer and community feedback, The Center for Growing Justice decided to embrace a systems-change approach in our work, with a goal of addressing the root causes of disparities in the civil legal system.
Throughout our history, our mission has remained the same:
To obtain relief for the Distressed and Marginalized, to defend Human and Civil Rights, and to provide Public Interest Legal Services.
In 2023, in light of ongoing attacks on transgender Missourians, CFGJ focused our work on the following two projects:
1) Increasing transgender St. Louisans' access to housing by creating the TRANSforming Housing STL Coalition and publishing its groundbreaking 40-page research report: "TRANSforming Fair Housing in St. Louis: New Protections, New Partnerships, & New Possibilities for the LGBTQ Community".
2) Expanding the depth of free legal services offered to LGBTQ Missourians via our St. Louis Name & Gender Marker Change Mutual Aid project ("STL NCMA"). In 2023, STL NCMA volunteers created the very first toolkit that can be used by transgender individuals to change the gender marker on their Missouri birth certificate without an attorney. Our new toolkit has opened up access to state recognition of gender transition for trans adults who previously were unable to afford the $1200+ typically charged by private attorneys for these Missouri gender marker cases.
At the same time, we are working with the Missouri State ID Access Coalition to advocate for continued access to accurate and affirming government IDs for trans and nonbinary Missourians.
Over the course of 2023, STL NCMA volunteers assisted more than 250 individuals with all stages of Missouri and Illinois's name and gender marker change legal processes, including through our pop-up free legal clinic booths at regional Pride festivals.