South Africa, human rights, transgender, discrimination, access, healthcare


LGBTQIA people, all around the world, experience violence, discrimination, and rights violations almost daily. In the field of human rights and healthcare more specifically, trans people have unique health risks and they face further rights violations, public shaming, and institutional violence when trying to navigate through an essentially cisgender healthcare system. On that account, this research aims to explore transgender persons’ right to access health care (or lack thereof) in South Africa and possible remedies in the African human rights system. The methodology employed consists of a brief review of literature, a qualitative design based on multiple sources, and theoretical reasoning embedded in the larger framework of human rights, more specifically a human rights-based approach to health care. The goal is to employ a somewhat innovative human rights-based approach to health care access and to analyse which international responsibilities the Republic of South Africa has regarding the health rights of transgender persons. Both the advantages and limits of international adjudication and advocacy on behalf of trans people in the African system are also discussed.


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Author Biographies

Erick da Luz Scherf

Erasmus Mundus scholar and Social Work graduate student at the University of Stavanger (UiS) in Norway and previous Affiliated Researcher in the ERC-funded Human Rights Nudge project at the University of Copenhagen in Denmark. Graduate Law Diploma (International Law concentration) and a Bachelor’s degree in International Relations and Politics, (Brazil). Member of the Human Rights and Citizenship research group at the School of Legal and Social Sciences of the University of Vale do Itajai (UNIVALI), in Brazil.

Maria de Lourdes Alves Lima Zanatta

Professor Emerita. She holds a Ph.D. in Public Juridical Sciences from the University of Minho (Portugal), and a Master’s in Law from UNIVALI. Coordinator of the Human Rights and Citizenship Research Group, registered with CNPq and UNIVALI's School of Legal and Social Sciences. Coordinator of UNIVALI's community project "Intergenerational Law and Transversality", which carries out interdisciplinary actions aimed at safeguarding the rights of children and adolescents through the provision of training courses and advisory services to civil society entities on cross-cutting issues supported by legislation relevant to ethnicity-race and gender.

Marcos Vinicius Viana da Silva

Full professor and researcher at UNIVALI, at the School of Legal and Social Sciences. Active lawyer in Southern Brazil in the field of civil rights litigation. Juris Doctor (J.D.) degree from the University of Alicante (Spain), and a Ph.D. in Legal Sciences from UNIVALI, Brazil.

Jose Everton da Silva

Vice-Dean for Undergraduate Affairs at UNIVALI – Itajai Campus. Post-doctoral researcher at the University of Passo Fundo (UPF) and a Master’s in Regional Development from the Fundação Universidade Regional de Blumenau  and a Doctorate in Legal Sciences from the UNIVALI. Professor at the LLM/Ph.D. program in Legal Sciences at UNIVALI.


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