October 9, 2018
2:00pm to 3:30pm
Haines 279
Christina Chica

Stefan Vogler, UCI Chancellor's Postdoc 

Legally Queer - Adjudicating Gender and Sexuality in U.S. LGBQ Asylum Claims

Legally Queer: Adjudicating Gender and Sexuality in U.S. LGBQ Asylum Claims


Until 1990, the United States barred LGBQ people from entering the country. Yet that same year witnessed a dramatic shift. The ban was not only lifted, but LGBQ people became eligible for asylum protection. This talk takes this legal change as its point of departure, asking how the area of LGBQ asylum law formed and how it has changed since its inception. I argue that this area of law came about and has expanded considerably due in large part to legal activism by a dedicated group of advocates who fashioned themselves into lay experts on issues of gender and sexuality and actively sought to educate adjudicators on these issues. In particular, I show how these advocates were able to move the standards for proving sexuality away from a focus on the body—such as gendered stereotypes and sex acts—and toward narrative accounts of sexual identity development. I further demonstrate that these advocates have taken advantage of the law’s interpretive flexibility to create legally protected categories for new groups of LGBQ people and continue to push those boundaries today.

Thanks to the support from the Irene Flecknoe Ross Lecture Series in the Department of Sociology. The Irene Flecknoe Ross Lecture Series is made possible by a gift from Ray Ross in memory of his wife