ESP Biography



LYDIA BROWN, Advocate, Organizer, Educator, Speaker, Strategist




Major: J.D., B.A. in Arabic

College/Employer: Autistic Women & Nonbinary Network

Year of Graduation: Not available.

Picture of Lydia Brown

Brief Biographical Sketch:

I am an advocate, organizer, educator, public speaker, attorney, and writer focused on violence against multiply-marginalized disabled people, such as disabled people who are queer and trans, low and no-income, undocumented, and people of color. I just finished a term as chairperson of an independent state agency in Massachusetts.

I graduated from Georgetown University as an Arabic major in 2015 and Northeastern University School of Law in 2018. I taught for two years as a Visiting Lecturer at Tufts University in the Experimental College. Way back when, I graduated from Lexington Christian Academy here in Massachusetts, and before that, I went to Mystic Valley Regional Charter School in Malden (also in Massachusetts).

Full bio at http://autistichoya.net/bio



Past Classes

  (Clicking a class title will bring you to the course's section of the corresponding course catalog)

L11892: Marhaban Bikum! or, Who Wants to Learn Some Arabic? in Splash 2017 (Nov. 18 - 19, 2017)
I spent four-six years (arguable either way) of my life cramming Modern Standard Arabic and two dialects into my brainspace, including a stint in Jordan. Ever wanted to know how to swear at p -- er, make small talk in Arabic? Come to this class and I will spit some of it up for you! You will learn how to write in the Arabic alphabet, how to sound out unfamiliar words, and how to say some useful basic phrases -- if we're lucky, you'll even progress to basic conversation and then you can go home and impress your friends and family with your ability to correctly pronounce all of those words every newscaster totally butchers!


X11893: LGBT... Q? in Splash 2017 (Nov. 18 - 19, 2017)
There is increasing awareness and, arguably, acceptance of LGBT people and issues in society. However, that acronym, and the average person's understanding of the queer community, still leaves a lot of people out. This class will discuss such topics as: * The asexuality spectrum * Romantic orientation vs. sexual orientation * Non-binary genders * Intersex conditions * Pansexuality and its overlap with bisexuality * The overlap between the LGBTQ community and other communities Students will hopefully come away with a better understanding of the broader queer/LGBTQ community and have resources to explore the issues further if they would like.


Z11894: Everything You Need to Know About Prisons in the U.S. in Splash 2017 (Nov. 18 - 19, 2017)
Where do prisons come from? What are the purposes of prisons? Do they really hold up to those ideals? What is prison privatization? What are mass incarceration and the prison-industrial complex and why should you care? We're fascinated with shows like Oz, Prison Break, and Orange is the New Black, but what do we really know about how prisons work in society, who is imprisoned, and where our system fails? Come to learn about the history of prisons and incarceration in the United States, how our criminal justice system stacks up against others internationally, and what current pressing issues we are now grappling with as a society. We will talk about the role of incarceration in institutional/structural racism, classism, and ableism (don't worry; we'll discuss those terms!) and the connections between prison abolition work and the Black Lives Matter movement as well as the psychological effects of solitary confinement, legal issues surrounding indigent (public) defense and access to counsel, and the ethics of alternatives to imprisonment.


Z11895: A Brief Introduction to Disability Rights Activism (and Theory on the Side) in Splash 2017 (Nov. 18 - 19, 2017)
What is disability? Who counts as disabled? How do we -- or should we or can we -- think about disability and bodily/mental difference in society? Whose bodies or brains are considered "healthy" or "normal" and whose are considered "sick," "disordered," or "abnormal" -- and why? In this course, we will explore the concept of different types of disability -- cognitive, physical, mental, sensory, and otherwise. We will grapple with difficult, complicated questions as we move from "unsightly beggars" and "mental defectives" to "sideshow freaks" and "telethon cripples," and all the way to today's radical disability justice activism and calls for crip culture. We'll discuss stigma and shame, as well as disability pride and empowerment. We'll cover topics as diverse as reproductive justice, white supremacy, Calvinist moral principles, bioethics, labor rights, mass incarceration, and sexual violence. You will learn about the longest occupation of a federal building in U.S. protest history, cultural communities you may have never known existed (Deaf culture, Autistic culture, Mad pride, Neuroqueer movement, etc.), and the faces of modern-day eugenics. We will question societal expectations of "normal" and "healthy" bodies and minds, and examine the myriad possibilities for radically reconceptualizing disabled experiences as part of the human experience. We will discuss connections between disability activism and movements for labor justice, fat acceptance, feminism, queer and trans liberation, and racial justice. Don't worry if you don't know much -- this course is meant as an introduction! By the end of the course, you won't be an expert on disability studies or the disability rights movement or disability cultural activism. You will, however, have both a broader and deeper understanding of an incredibly diverse and dynamic social justice movement, as well as the tools to more carefully analyze and respond to public discourse and popular ideas about disability and bodily/mental difference. This course was originally taught in Summer HSSP 2015, so you will get a whole summer's worth of info crammed into just two hours! (If you took this class in HSSP, you should NOT sign up for this class.)


X11897: Everything You Didn't Want To Know About Law School in Splash 2017 (Nov. 18 - 19, 2017)
Have you known you wanted to go to law school since you could talk and argue and win? Are your parents pressuring you to pick between doctor and lawyer? Have you already declared Pre-Law at your first-choice college? Are you just wondering whether law school might be right for you? Bring all your questions, and yes, I do mean all. I'm a third-year law student right here in Boston, and my partner is also a lawyer who's been out of hell (er, law school) for five years. You might not learn about The Law, but you will learn about hell. I mean, law school. (cough) (cough) (wink) (nod) (sideways glance) (cough)


Z10624: Everything You Need to Know About Prisons in the U.S. in Splash 2016 (Nov. 19 - 20, 2016)
Where do prisons come from? What are the purposes of prisons? Do they really hold up to those ideals? What is prison privatization? What are mass incarceration and the prison-industrial complex and why should you care? We're fascinated with shows like Oz, Prison Break, Orange is the New Black, and Wentworth but what do we really know about how prisons work in society, who is imprisoned (and why, and who isn't), and where our system fails? Come to learn about the history of prisons and incarceration in the United States, how our criminal justice system stacks up against others internationally, and what current pressing issues we are now grappling with as a society. We will talk about the role of incarceration in institutional/structural racism, classism, and ableism (don't worry; we'll discuss those terms!) and the connections between prison abolition work and the Black Lives Matter movement as well as the psychological effects of solitary confinement, legal issues surrounding indigent (public) defense and access to counsel, and the ethics of alternatives to prisons.


H10625: How to Torture Your Characters 101 in Splash 2016 (Nov. 19 - 20, 2016)
You: Love writing fiction. Flash fiction. Short fiction. Novellas. Novels. Text-based roleplay. Comics. Graphic Novels. Fanfic. Possibly edgy or experimental. Some experience and past interest in creative writing of some kind. Us: A civil rights lawyer and a law student. Activists. Gluttons for good food. Easily distracted by kittens and dogs. Long time text-based roleplayers. One of us a novelist. What We'll Do: In this class, we'll talk about motivation, cultural context, political intrigue, relationship angst (and not just THOSE kinds of relationships), trauma, and identity. You will learn how to develop realistic, compelling characters full of depth. (At least in theory. This IS Splash after all.) And then you will learn how to torture your characters -- that is, how to create and sustain personal and interpersonal conflict in your fiction, and how to make the story quintessentially readable and enjoyable, and ideally, relatable.


X10834: LGBT... Q? in Splash 2016 (Nov. 19 - 20, 2016)
There is increasing awareness and, arguably, acceptance of LGBT people and issues in society. However, that acronym, and the average person's understanding of the queer community, still leaves a lot of people out. This class will discuss such topics as: * The asexuality spectrum * Romantic orientation vs. sexual orientation * Non-binary genders * Intersex conditions * Pansexuality and its overlap with bisexuality * The overlap between the LGBTQ community and other communities Students will hopefully come away with a better understanding of the broader queer/LGBTQ community and have resources to explore the issues further if they would like.


H10417: LGBT... Q? in Spark 2016 (Mar. 12 - 13, 2016)
There is more societal awareness, if not societal acceptance, of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community. However, there are a number of sexual and romantic orientations and gender identities that are rarely if ever recognized or discussed. This presentation will give an overview of some of these lesser-known identities, such as the asexual and aromantic spectrums; pansexuality; intersex; and non-binary and genderqueer identities, as well as the issues that most affect these communities.


X10426: Marhaban Bikum! or, Who Wants to Learn Some Arabic? in Spark 2016 (Mar. 12 - 13, 2016)
I spent the last four-six years (arguable either way) cramming Modern Standard Arabic and two dialects into my brainspace, including a stint in Jordan. Ever wanted to know how to swear at p -- er, make small talk in Arabic? Come to this class and I will spit some of it up for you! You will learn how to write in the Arabic alphabet, how to sound out unfamiliar words, and how to say some useful basic phrases -- if we're lucky, you'll even progress to basic conversation and then you can go home and impress your friends and family with your ability to correctly pronounce all of those words every newscaster totally butchers!


H10430: How to Torture Your Characters 101 in Spark 2016 (Mar. 12 - 13, 2016)
You: Love writing fiction. Flash fiction. Short fiction. Novellas. Novels. Text-based roleplay. Comics. Graphic Novels. Fanfic. Possibly edgy or experimental. Some experience and past interest in creative writing of some kind. Us: A civil rights lawyer and a law student. Activists. Gluttons for good food. Easily distracted by kittens and dogs. Long time text-based roleplayers. One of us a novelist. What We'll Do: In this class, we'll talk about motivation, cultural context, political intrigue, relationship angst (and not just THOSE kinds of relationships), trauma, and identity. You will learn how to develop realistic, compelling characters full of depth. (At least in theory. This IS Spark after all.) And then you will learn how to torture your characters -- that is, how to create and sustain personal and interpersonal conflict in your fiction, and how to make the story quintessentially readable and enjoyable, and ideally, relatable.


Z10432: A Brief Introduction to Disability Rights Activism (and Theory on the Side) in Spark 2016 (Mar. 12 - 13, 2016)
What is disability? Who counts as disabled? How do we -- or should we or can we -- think about disability and bodily/mental difference in society? Whose bodies or brains are considered "healthy" or "normal" and whose are considered "sick," "disordered," or "abnormal" -- and why? In this course, we will explore the concept of different types of disability -- cognitive, physical, mental, sensory, and otherwise. We will grapple with difficult, complicated questions as we move from "unsightly beggars" and "mental defectives" to "sideshow freaks" and "telethon cripples," and all the way to today's radical disability justice activism and calls for crip culture. We'll discuss stigma and shame, as well as disability pride and empowerment. We'll cover topics as diverse as reproductive justice, white supremacy, Calvinist moral principles, bioethics, labor rights, mass incarceration, and sexual violence. You will learn about the longest occupation of a federal building in U.S. protest history, cultural communities you may have never known existed (Deaf culture, Autistic culture, Mad pride, Neuroqueer movement, etc.), and the faces of modern-day eugenics. We will question societal expectations of "normal" and "healthy" bodies and minds, and examine the myriad possibilities for radically reconceptualizing disabled experiences as part of the human experience. We will discuss connections between disability activism and movements for labor justice, fat acceptance, feminism, queer and trans liberation, and racial justice. Don't worry if you don't know much -- this course is meant as an introduction! By the end of the course, you won't be an expert on disability studies or the disability rights movement or disability cultural activism. You will, however, have both a broader and deeper understanding of an incredibly diverse and dynamic social justice movement, as well as the tools to more carefully analyze and respond to public discourse and popular ideas about disability and bodily/mental difference. This course was originally taught in Summer HSSP 2015, so you will get a whole summer's worth of info crammed into just two hours! (If you took this class over the summer, you should NOT sign up for this class.)


H10440: What the @#$% is the mythical "Reasonable Person"?! in Spark 2016 (Mar. 12 - 13, 2016)
U.S. jurisprudence (a fancy word for legal thought, tradition, and practice) is obsessed with this mythical half-unicorn half-phoenix "reasonable person." In case after case (well, at least the ones covered so far in the first year of law school), judges comment about whether someone's actions would match the actions of "the reasonable person," and then they decide which person wins and which person is royally screwed. For this class, you'll get a brief overview of what this supposedly means in the legal context, as well as how it connects to what we know as case law. And then we'll get to discussing the fun questions: Why does the reasonable person standard matter? Where does it come from? And most importantly, who gets to count as the reasonable person? Does gender matter? What about age? Knowledge or experience? Physical or mental disability? Culture? How does the current state of the law account for our many differences and push back on the ages-old "reasonable person"? Should the next movements forward in law abolish this standard, and if so, what should we replace it with?


Z10441: Everything You Need to Know About Prisons in the U.S. in Spark 2016 (Mar. 12 - 13, 2016)
Where do prisons come from? What are the purposes of prisons? Do they really hold up to those ideals? What is prison privatization? What are mass incarceration and the prison-industrial complex and why should you care? We're fascinated with shows like Oz, Prison Break, and Orange is the New Black, but what do we really know about how prisons work in society, who is imprisoned, and where our system fails? Come to learn about the history of prisons and incarceration in the United States, how our criminal justice system stacks up against others internationally, and what current pressing issues we are now grappling with as a society. We will talk about the role of incarceration in institutional/structural racism, classism, and ableism (don't worry; we'll discuss those terms!) and the connections between prison abolition work and the Black Lives Matter movement as well as the psychological effects of solitary confinement, legal issues surrounding indigent (public) defense and access to counsel, and the ethics of alternatives to imprisonment.


L9782: Marhaban Bikum! or, Who Wants to Learn Some Arabic? in Splash 2015 (Nov. 21 - 22, 2015)
I spent the last four-six years (arguable either way) cramming Modern Standard Arabic and two dialects into my brainspace, including a stint in Jordan. Come to this class and I will spit some of it up for you! You will learn how to write in the Arabic alphabet, how to sound out unfamiliar words, and how to say some useful basic phrases -- if we're lucky, you'll even progress to basic conversation and then you can go home and impress your friends and family with your ability to correctly pronounce all of those words every newscaster totally butchers!


Z9784: A Brief Introduction to Disability Rights Activism (and Theory on the Side) in Splash 2015 (Nov. 21 - 22, 2015)
What is disability? Who counts as disabled? How do we -- or should we or can we -- think about disability and bodily/mental difference in society? Whose bodies or brains are considered "healthy" or "normal" and whose are considered "sick," "disordered," or "abnormal" -- and why? In this course, we will explore the concept of different types of disability -- cognitive, physical, mental, sensory, and otherwise. We will grapple with difficult, complicated questions as we move from "unsightly beggars" and "mental defectives" to "sideshow freaks" and "telethon cripples," and all the way to today's radical disability justice activism and calls for crip culture. We'll discuss stigma and shame, as well as disability pride and empowerment. We'll cover topics as diverse as reproductive justice, white supremacy, Calvinist moral principles, bioethics, labor rights, mass incarceration, and sexual violence. You will learn about the longest occupation of a federal building in U.S. protest history, cultural communities you may have never known existed (Deaf culture, Autistic culture, Mad pride, Neuroqueer movement, etc.), and the faces of modern-day eugenics. We will question societal expectations of "normal" and "healthy" bodies and minds, and examine the myriad possibilities for radically reconceptualizing disabled experiences as part of the human experience. We will discuss connections between disability activism and movements for labor justice, fat acceptance, feminism, queer and trans liberation, and racial justice. Don't worry if you don't know much -- this course is meant as an introduction! By the end of the course, you won't be an expert on disability studies or the disability rights movement or disability cultural activism. You will, however, have both a broader and deeper understanding of an incredibly diverse and dynamic social justice movement, as well as the tools to more carefully analyze and respond to public discourse and popular ideas about disability and bodily/mental difference. This course was originally taught in Summer HSSP 2015, so you will get a whole summer's worth of info crammed into just two hours! (If you took this class over the summer, you should NOT sign up for this class.)


Z9789: Everything You Need to Know About Prisons in the U.S. in Splash 2015 (Nov. 21 - 22, 2015)
Where do prisons come from? What are the purposes of prisons? Do they really hold up to those ideals? What is prison privatization? What are mass incarceration and the prison-industrial complex and why should you care? We're fascinated with shows like Oz, Prison Break, and Orange is the New Black, but what do we really know about how prisons work in society, who is imprisoned, and where our system fails? Come to learn about the history of prisons and incarceration in the United States, how our criminal justice system stacks up against others internationally, and what current pressing issues we are now grappling with as a society. We will talk about the role of incarceration in institutional/structural racism, classism, and ableism (don't worry; we'll discuss those terms!) and the connections between prison abolition work and the Black Lives Matter movement as well as the psychological effects of solitary confinement, legal issues surrounding indigent (public) defense and access to counsel, and the ethics of alternatives to imprisonment.


Z9790: LGBT... Q? in Splash 2015 (Nov. 21 - 22, 2015)
There is increasing awareness and, arguably, acceptance of LGBT people and issues in society. However, that acronym, and the average person's understanding of the queer community, still leaves a lot of people out. This class will discuss such topics as: * The asexuality spectrum * Romantic orientation vs. sexual orientation * Non-binary genders * Intersex conditions * Pansexuality and its overlap with bisexuality * The overlap between the LGBTQ community and other communities Students will hopefully come away with a better understanding of the broader queer/LGBTQ community and have resources to explore the issues further if they would like.


H9467: How to Write Character Well: Intensive Character Development for Writers and Roleplayers in HSSP Summer 2015 (Jul. 12, 2015)
What makes characters realistic, relatable, and unique? How do your favorite writers craft truly compelling characters? In this course, YOU (yes, you!) will be challenged to delve deep into all aspects of a character persona in order to write more effective characters for your fiction. Whether your thing is text-based roleplay, novels, short stories, sudden fiction, poetic narrative, playwriting, or any other narrative medium where characters exist, this class will give you the tools and inspiration you need to develop compelling characters with depth and realism (and yes, that applies for totally non-realistic genres, too). We'll cover topics of mechanics and writing, like the dreaded Mary Sues/Gary Stus, archetypes, and character versus plot-driven writing. But more importantly, we'll examine topics like identity formation, collective trauma, interpersonal connections, marginality, inconsistency, fragility, precarity, debility, and instability. (Don't worry if you don't know these terms; that's the point of going to a class to learn.) We'll talk about violence. We'll talk about trauma. We'll talk about emotional development. We'll talk about relationships. We'll talk about structural socio-cultural and political issues. (Because the best writing draws from what we already know about how people, communities, and societies work.) This course will also cover opportunities and challenges with writing characters who are different from you in one or more ways, especially when the character belongs to a minority or marginalized group. (Specific topics to be addressed will include racial identity, socioeconomic class, mental and physical disability, sexual and romantic orientation, gender identity and expression, im(migration) and transience, and faith and spirituality.) You should plan to bring a notebook and pen/pencil -- or a laptop or tablet, if that's better for you -- to each class and expect to spend time between classes on assigned exercises (reading and writing). This course will be reading, workshop, and writing intensive.


H9468: A Brief Introduction to Disability Rights Activism (and Theory on the Side) in HSSP Summer 2015 (Jul. 12, 2015)
What is disability? Who counts as disabled? How do we -- or should we or can we -- think about disability and bodily/mental difference in society? Whose bodies or brains are considered "healthy" or "normal" and whose are considered "sick," "disordered," or "abnormal" -- and why? In this course, we will explore the concept of different types of disability -- cognitive, physical, mental, sensory, and otherwise. We will grapple with difficult, complicated questions as we move from "unsightly beggars" and "mental defectives" to "sideshow freaks" and "telethon cripples," and all the way to today's radical disability justice activism and calls for crip culture. We'll discuss stigma and shame, as well as disability pride and empowerment. We'll cover topics as diverse as reproductive justice, white supremacy, Calvinist moral principles, bioethics, labor rights, mass incarceration, and sexual violence. You will learn about the longest occupation of a federal building in U.S. protest history, cultural communities you may have never known existed, and the faces of modern-day eugenics. We will question societal expectations of "normal" and "healthy" bodies and minds, and examine the myriad possibilities for radically reconceptualizing disabled experiences as part of the human experience. We will discuss connections between disability activism and movements for labor justice, fat acceptance, feminism, queer and trans liberation, and racial justice. Don't worry if you don't know much -- this course is meant as an introduction! By the end of the course, you won't be an expert on disability studies or the disability rights movement or disability cultural activism. You will, however, have both a broader and deeper understanding of an incredibly diverse and dynamic social justice movement, as well as the tools to more carefully analyze and respond to public discourse and popular ideas about disability and bodily/mental difference. Some specific topics we will cover: - Autism and the Neurodiversity Movement - Mad Pride and the Psychiatric Survivors Movement - Deaf Culture and Manual Languages - Disabled Veterans/Wounded Warriors - Disability and Aging - Deformity and Disfigurement


H9548: How to Write Character Well: Intensive Character Development for Writers and Roleplayers in HSSP Summer 2015 (Jul. 12, 2015)
What makes characters realistic, relatable, and unique? How do your favorite writers craft truly compelling characters? In this course, YOU (yes, you!) will be challenged to delve deep into all aspects of a character persona in order to write more effective characters for your fiction. Whether your thing is text-based roleplay, novels, short stories, sudden fiction, poetic narrative, playwriting, or any other narrative medium where characters exist, this class will give you the tools and inspiration you need to develop compelling characters with depth and realism (and yes, that applies for totally non-realistic genres, too).


H4757: Character Development Workshop in HSSP Summer 2011 (Jul. 10, 2011)
In this course, students will be challenged to delve deep into a character's persona in order to write more effective characterizations in a work of fiction. Whether you are an avid roleplayer, short story writer, sudden fiction writer, or novelist, this course will give you the tools and inspiration you need to develop compelling characters. Topics to be discussed will include Mary Sues and Gary Stus, effective and ineffective use of archetypes, and why character-driven writing is especially poignant regardless of genre. Students should bring a notebook and pen/pencil to each class and expect to spend time between classes on assigned exercises. This course will be reading, workshop, and writing intensive.


H4758: Women in Islam: Islamic Feminism, the Veil, Politics, and Love in HSSP Summer 2011 (Jul. 10, 2011)
In this course, we will explore the changing and varied roles women have played in Islam from its founding to the present day. Among the topics to be discussed will be women in Muhammad (PBUH) 's time, the rise of Islamic feminism, women in Sharia law, women and music, covering (hijab, abaya, jilbab, burqa, etcetera.), women in politics, women and Islamic terrorism, women and political Islam, women and the clergy, women in Salafism, and contemporary Muslim women. Classes will consist of lectures and discussions. Students should have a basic familiarity with the religion of Islam, an interest in learning about an under-represented topic, an open mind, and a willingness to engage in critical discussions. Students will be expected to write one brief journal entry after each class.


Autism Re-Examined: Neurodiversity, the Autism Rights Movement, and the Social Model of Autism in HSSP (2012)
When you hear something about autism, it's usually given in facts and figures accompanied with pleas to give money to ...


Character Development Workshop in HSSP (2012)
Do you text roleplay? Write short stories? What about sudden fiction? Or novels? Plays? Do you care about character? Want ...