ISFL World Conference Book recently published

The ISFL World Conference Book was recently published (flyer and table of contents).



(Nederlands) Symposium Problemen met naleving omgangsregeling: Is een gezamenlijke procedure een oplossing?

Sorry, this entry is only available in Dutch.



Call for papers: Special Issue of the International Journal of Gender, Sexuality and Law

Bodies, identities, and gender regimes: Human rights and legal aspects of gender identity registration

Guest editors:

The right not to be discriminated against irrespective of gender (identity) may clash with state practices to attribute and register a legal gender to individuals. These labels, particularly as state and non-state actors make use of them, impact the possibilities of individuals to enjoy human rights. Information on legal gender is used for many different purposes, including emancipation policies and identification, but also serves to impose different rights and responsibilities on people labelled ‘men’ and ‘women’. The effects of such practices are especially felt by people who do not, or do not always, neatly fit in existing legal categories, including trans, queer, non-binary and intersex persons.

Questions regarding gender registration are increasingly raised by NGOs, the UN and other international organisations and agencies, scholars and even some states. Thus far, most attempts to change the system seem to focus on expanding the definitions of male and female or eliminating the binary construction of gender as a legal category. Abolition of the practice of categorisation as such has received less attention, although the Yogyakarta Principles Plus 10 seem to move in that direction (compare Principle 31 and its predecessor Principle 3(b); see

Gender registration and legal gender labels affect people of all genders, and thus become an issue of global justice. Also, the scope of the practice is not limited to the domestic level. International human rights treaty bodies, for example, systematically ask for gendersegregated data and ICAO regulations prescribe that passports contain a gender marker. The practice of asking for and collecting information on gender is also not limited to states, but is often used by providers of goods and services. Arguably, this practice is connected to state registration practices in various ways, including by states giving non-state actors access to the registered data and by legitimising the practice of asking for information on gender as such.

This special issue focuses on the impacts of gender registration and the possibilities for abandoning such practices. An interdisciplinary approach is needed to examine (1) the consequences that the systematic attribution and registration of legal gender by states and other actors have on the quality of life of individuals generally and trans and non-binary persons in particular, and (2) the possible alternatives to such registration practices. For this reason, this special issue intends to explore the possibilities of abolishing gender registration practices, in light of their harmful effects on various groups, and to reflect on possible injustices and human rights violations that may inadvertently result from such abolition.

The issue invites papers that draw upon a variety of disciplines, including law, gender studies, trans studies, queer theory, legal and political sociology, and sociology of the body. We are particularly interested in submissions that address the following themes:

  • Relationships between gender identity registration and global justice;
  • Aspects of human rights and groups affected by (the abolition of) gender registration;
  • Effects of gender registration broadly;
  • Analyses of why states register gender and for what purposes they use this information;
  • Empirical research on the impact of gender registration and categorisation practices of states, non-states and international organisations;
  • Development of theoretical frameworks to assess the effects of gender registration practices;
  • Strategies taken by individuals, lobbying groups and others to cope with the consequences of legal gender labels or to resist state practices of registration;
  • Possibilities and liabilities of non-binary gender markers in identity documents.

The selected contributions will be published in a special issue of the International Journal of Gender, Sexuality and Law (

Deadline for the submission of abstracts: 4 February 2019

Abstracts should not exceed 500 words in length and should lay out the article’s topic, approach, and aims. Please send your abstract to Verena Molitor ( and Marjolein van den Brink (

Notifications of acceptance to submit a full article for peer review will be sent by 1 March 2019. Contributions should be approximately 8,000 – 10,000 words in length. Full article submissions will be due by 20 August 2019.



Registration 13th UCERF symposium

The 13th UCERF symposium will take place on the 18th of April 2019! During the symposium, several speakers will give a presentation on various topics in the field of family law. The symposium will be in Dutch. Please contact us for any questions via the programme is composed as follows:

  • Dr. Inge van der Valk & dr. Christina Jeppesen de Boer
    Both university lecturers and researchers at Utrecht University
    Compliance with care and contact arrangements
  • Dr. Jan-Ger Knot
    University lecturer at the University of Groningen, IPR advisor at PlasBossinade Notarissen and deputy justice at the Arnhem-Leeuwarden Court of Appeal
    The new EU regulations on matrimonial and partnership property regimes
  • Sanne van de Velde
    Council advisor at the Ministry of Justice and Security and programme manager data protection Department of Legislation and Legal Affairs
    Dilemmas of a legislative draftsman regarding the age limit and consent in the GDPR
  • Stans Goudsmit
    Municipal Children’s Ombudsman Rotterdam
    Situations in Rotterdam: experiences of a Municipal Children’s Ombudsman
  • Joost Huijer
    PhD Candidate and lecturer at Utrecht University
    The legal justification of child protection measures in practice
  • Hein Schröder & drs. Tineke van den Berg
    Family-court judge at the Overijssel Court / Child and youth healthcare psychologist and orthopedagoge generalist
    Pilot ‘Bruggesprek’: age appropriate involvement of children in the parenting plan 


Report on transgender and intersex equality rights in Europe

On 20 November 2018, the European Commission published a report on trans and intersex equality rights in Europe. The European network of legal experts in gender equality and non-discrimination, of which SIM staff member Alexandra Timmer is the acting specialist coordinator gender equality, commissioned the report. The report was authored by Marjolein van den Brink (SIM staff member and UCERF researcher) and Peter Dunne from the University of Bristol Law School. With kind permission of the Bristol Law School and dr. Peter Dunne, the blog on the report is reproduced here.
Read more >

Transgender and Intersex Rights in the EU and EFTA

By Dr Peter Dunne, Lecturer in Law (University of Bristol Law School) and Dr Marjolein van den Brink, Lecturer in Law (Utrecht University School of Law).

*This blog post reflects the views of the authors alone. The blog has not been approved by, and should not be understood as the opinion of, the European Commission or European Network of Legal Experts in Gender Equality and Non-Discrimination*

On 20 November 2018, to mark the Transgender Day of Remembrance, the European Commission (DG Justice and Consumers) published a new survey on transgender (trans) and intersex equality rights. The report – entitled Trans and intersex equality rights in Europe – a comparative analysis (‘the Report’) – was co-authored by Peter Dunne (Bristol Law School) and Marjolein van den Brink (Utrecht University). It considers the existence (or lack thereof) of gender recognition and non-discrimination guarantees for trans and intersex populations in 28 European Union and three European Free Trade Association countries (EFTA).

At a moment when gender rights are the subject of intense political and media debate in the United Kingdom, the Report is a timely reminder of the real, substantive inequalities which transgender and intersex communities experience on a daily basis. While the Report evidences some welcome progress in the spheres of gender identity, gender expression and sex characteristics, it reinforces existing research (e.g. here, here) showing that – both de jure and de facto – trans and intersex individuals experience less secure protection than cisgender peers and persons who do not experience intersex variance.

The Report builds upon the landmark work (also published by the European Commission) undertaken by Christa Tobler and Silvan Agius in 2012. This report was one of the first major studies to consider European experiences of discrimination on grounds of sex, gender identity and gender expression. Dunne and van den Brink’s report explores a broad range of topics which directly touch upon trans and intersex inequalities: international and European rights standards, protection in employment, access to goods and services, prohibition of discrimination in healthcare settings and the availability of effective remedies.

This short blog posting focuses on two key elements which the Report identifies for further policy and academic consideration.

First, Chapter 2 of the Report illustrates how EU law (or EU secondary legislative at least) protects certain individuals who experience a trans identity. In P v S and Cornwall County Council judgment, the CJEU held that people who have a ‘gender reassignment’ characteristic fall within the ‘sex’ protections of EU employment non-discrimination guarantees. In the Report, Dunne and van den Brink identify, as a particularly important consideration, the question as to through what characteristic EU and domestic laws should tackle transphobic and intersex-motivated discrimination?

The Report suggests that there are (at least) three options in this regard:

“(i) protection through a broad interpretation of sex; (ii) adding the grounds of gender identity, gender expression and sex characteristics to the non-discrimination grounds; or (iii) a middle road which would clarify that ‘sex’ should be understood broadly to encompass all forms of discrimination related to gender identity, gender expression and sex characteristics.”

In terms of visibility of the groups concerned, as well as the symbolic role of the law, the latter two are preferable. That leaves open the complex issue as to the effects and impact of one broad ‘gender/sex ground’ as opposed to various independently formulated grounds. The advantages of the first option include the fact that the causes of many forms of discrimination of both cisgender people, women in particular, and trans and intersex people, may have similar roots. However, on the other hand, Dunne and van den Brink also acknowledge the fact that trans and intersex people may experience discrimination which does not neatly fit into accepted ways of understanding sex discrimination (particularly for non-binary populations).

Second, the Report reveals the extent to which EU and EFTA jurisdictions have failed to adopt provisions or policies to accommodate or protect intersex individuals. A small minority of jurisdictions create the possibility of postponing the attribution of legal gender to a new-born infant. Even this, however, is controversial within intersex advocacy, which emphasises: (a) that many intersex individuals self-identify as male or female; (b) that the solution to intersex discrimination is not enforced marginalization through involuntary ‘third gender’ categories; and (c) that intersex human rights are better protected through prohibitions on medically unnecessary normalizing surgeries on the bodies of young infants. Intersex variance and those who experience it are particularly invisible within the sphere of domestic non-discrimination law. Although many national equality laws tend to, or at least are expected to, protect intersex individuals against discrimination on an equal footing with all other people, the Report reveals that only Malta has made this inclusion explicit (through the Gender Identity, Gender Expression and Sex Characteristics Act 2015).

In addition to these two important questions, the Report highlights numerous other concerns which substantively impact the lived-experience of trans and intersex populations across Europe. While many of these problems were well-understood when Tobler and Agius published their research in 2012, there are also emerging concerns, such as the legal protection afforded to pregnant men. Overall, while the Report identifies both EU and domestic-level progress, it warns of the many challenges which Europe’s trans and intersex populations must continue to surmount in accessing substantive equality.

< Back