During my final weeks of interning with ISLA, I was given a third research memorandum to research and craft an argument on obtaining legal recognition of gender for transgender individuals. This memorandum was one of the easier memos I have been responsible for during this internship. While, the length of the memo, my responsibilities, and the extensive research were all the same this was one of the first instances the law was actually on our side. My thesis was to evaluate the international requirements for achieving legal recognition of gender, namely on identity documents. Initially, I was fearsome that this memo would present much of the same difficulties regarding finding law to support my thesis. I began my research and noted that no treaty body has made explicit policies and guidelines regarding issues of Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity, and Gender Expression (SOGIE). And while this is true, I also noticed extensive mention of SOGIE issues throughout UN recommendations, conventions, and documents. This illustrated the direction the international body is headed in regards to SOGIE issues. This hypothesis is compounded by many nations passing new legislation regarding the amendment of gender. Overall, the international community seems ready to expand the amendment of gender to obtain legal recognition in a much more liberal manner. The international community denounces the requirement of medical surgery or psychological treatment prior to the obtainment of recognition. The minority also urges for an elimination of the production of any physical evidence of gender amendment in favor of self-identified gender recognition, i.e. submission by the applicant of their new name and gender as sufficient evidence. In total, the international community calls for the total abolition of the necessity for gender reassignment surgery and sterilization as a prerequisite.
I drafted this memo with the above culminated research and submitted it to my thematic area, Sexual Rights. This finalized the work I was responsible for, during this internship, leaving only my end of internship report and a final work meeting.
While I would have preferred to have been in South Africa working alongside my colleagues and experiencing the bustling culture of Johannesburg, I rejoiced in the extra family time and flexibility of a remote internship. As my internship came to a close and the work lessened, I took a brief trip to the mountains of north Georgia. I would wake up in the mornings with a cup of coffee on the screened porch of the wood cabin, open my computer and check my email for any emails received from South Africa throughout the night, and then work on edits on my memo draft. I would then put my computer away and put on my hiking boots to head off on a new trail along the canyon rim. I love being outside in nature and this was a great way to refresh my mind before the start of my 2L year. I would hike a total of 13 miles a day before heading back to the cabin to clean-up before grilling dinner and then winding out the night with s’mores over the campfire.
This internship was certainly difficult remote; however, I am beyond grateful for the hard work of all parties involved to ensure its continuation. Without their continued efforts to support a remote internship, I would have missed out on this great opportunity. While you can learn the basics of legal research throughout law school, you don’t truly internalize it until you put it into practice. This summer, I extensively researched international jurisprudence, national legislation, and treaty body recommendations. I then used this research to draft research memoranda with recommendations to the court as to how they should rule. The documents I created will be used by ISLA to craft appeal arguments. Change occurs one case at a time and this summer I worked on three cases. These cases will make their way through the court system to hopefully change the current precedent. Women’s rights are human rights and I’m thankful I was able to help expand women’s rights, even minutely through my work this summer.