Looking for dialogue and recognition: transgender persons’ rights

Date: 8 March 2021
Time: 17:00-18:00
Venue: Zoom

Relevant issues for transgender persons, such as the change of name and gender marks on birth certificates and the use of restrooms according to their gender identity, have been taken to the Brazilian Federal Supreme Court. Considering that and the democratisation role usually assigned to the amicus curiae, in this webinar Ana Côrtes (University of Coimbra/LawTransform) will present her work on civil society legal mobilization for trans rights. She looked at both the agents who took part in the constitutional processes regarding transgender persons’ rights and their performance. Her analysis aimed to verify the benefits of this possibility of participation from the actors’ perspective as well as the limitations and troubles faced.

The work looks beyond courts and decisions and focuses more broadly on social movement organisations and their performance. It includes a description of the organisations’ work and analyses the major challenges faced, mostly related to legitimacy, requirements for amicus curiae participation in the constitutional processes, and lack of financing for strategic litigation on transgender persons’ rights. That was achieved through interviews with the organisations and research considering all the ways of participation in the processes.

Highlighted topics for discussion are the Brazilian Federal Supreme Court’s selectivity and organisations’ interaction and choices aiming to overcome the selectivity. The civil society and social movement organisation’s goals are usually also related to visibility and dialogue and go beyond the decision. So, the organisations articulate themselves to prevail over difficulties and limitations of access and admissibility. Côrtes brings up that, nevertheless the participation as amicus curiae plays an essential role in the democratisation of constitutional jurisdiction, some issues could be reconsidered so that democratisation would be better accomplished.

Ana’s presentation will be followed by a discussion with Rachel Cichowski (University of Washington), moderated by Malcolm Langford (University of Oslo/LawTransform).

Ana Côrtes is a researcher at CMI-UiB Centre on Law and Social Transformation (LawTransform), and a PhD candidate in Public Law at the University of Coimbra, with a fellowship from the Portuguese Foundation for Science and Technology. Côrtes studies the recognition of rights for LGBT persons in countries with a civil law legal system. She holds a master’s degree in Law and Development from the Getulio Vargas Foundation (2018) and a bachelor’s degree in Law from the University of São Paulo (2015).

Rachel Cichowski (Ph.D., University of California, Irvine) is a Professor in the Department of Political Science with a joint appointment in the Law, Societies and Justice Department at the University of Washington. She is adjunct faculty at UW in the School of Law, Department of Gender, Women and Sexuality Studies and a member of the European Studies Faculty in the Jackson School of International Studies.

Malcolm Langford is a Professor of Public Law, University of Oslo, and Adjunct Professor, Faculty of Law, University of Bergen. He is Director of the  Centre on Experiential Legal Learning (CELL), a Centre for Excellence in Education (SFU), Co-Director of the UiB-CMI LawTransform. A lawyer and social scientist, his publications span human rights, international investment and development, comparative constitutionalism, law and technology, and the politics of the legal profession.