Gender Identity Registration and Human Rights Effects


GIRARE is an interdisciplinary research project that currently involves Utrecht University researchers from SIM / UCERF (Marjolein van den Brink) and Humanities / Gender Studies (Christine Quinan). The project explores the effects of global changes in (primarily) government practices regarding the attribution and registration of legal sex/gender on people’s well-being, in terms of human rights.

In the initial stages of the project, two sub-projects are carried out. GIRARE Local focuses on Dutch initiatives at municipal level to change practices of collecting and disseminating information on the sex/gender identity of individuals. GIRARE Travel explores how changes in state practices regarding sex-entries in travel documents affect the mobility of individuals, especially but not exclusively LGBTI persons.

The first phase of this project is carried out with financial support of Institutions, one of Utrecht University’s strategic research themes. Read more about the Girare expert seminar that took place on 21 October 2016.


Call for papers for special issue of International Journal of Gender, Sexuality and Law


A special issue of the International Journal of Gender, Sexuality and Law 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. This special issue is themed "Bodies, identities, and gender regimes: Human rights and legal aspects of gender identity registration." The deadline for the submission of abstracts is 4 February 2019.

 Guest editors are:

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

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.