CBA member awarded for paper on trans people’s fight for legal recognition

  • July 07, 2021

Samuel Singer founded Trans Legal Clinic in Montreal in 2014 and acted as supervising lawyer

By Bernise Carolino for Law Times

The University of Ottawa Faculty of Law has congratulated Samuel Singer, assistant professor, for winning the Canadian Law and Society Association Article Prize for his paper “Trans Rights Are Not Just Human Rights: Legal Strategies for Trans Justice.”

The article posits that current human rights instruments, while being viable legal advocacy tools used by trans people, are not enough to address the legal obstacles, especially intersectional and systemic barriers, encountered by such individuals, said a news release.

The paper, which aims to show the many times that trans people’s battle for legal recognition and redress has happened outside of a human rights context, focuses on three areas of Canadian trans caselaw beyond traditional human rights law: family law, the use of name and gender before the court and access to social benefits.

Canadian trans jurisprudence shows many effective trans legal strategies beyond human rights and the necessity for an agile and pragmatic approach to trans rights, especially when minority rights are threatened and when considering trans individuals on the margins of trans law reforms, said the article.

The prize committee, which annually vests the award to the best article published in the Canadian Journal of Law and Society, praised the article for being “important, timely, and contribut[ing] not just to the scholarship on issues affecting trans people, but also to the body of literature on legal and extra-legal strategies for social change more broadly.”

Samuel Singer has advocated for trans people through serving as a member of Egale Canada’s Legal Issues Committee and through establishing the Trans Legal Clinic in Montreal in 2014 and acting as its supervising lawyer. He has researched about trans legal issues including the ethics of trans competent lawyering and judging, with the help of funding through the OBA Foundation Chief Justice of Ontario Fellowship in Legal Ethics and Professionalism Research for 2019 to 2020; and about trans legal needs in B.C., with funding from the Law Foundation of British Columbia.

In the University of Ottawa’s law school, Singer has taught tax law and policy and has researched on tax law topics including tax dispute resolution, taxpayer remedies, the regulation of non-profit organizations and charities, the use of remission orders as tax debt relief and the limits of evidentiary privilege for tax professionals. He has been contributing editor of the Taxation of Corporate Reorganizations and has published an article discussing the tax treatment of trans medical expenses.

Singer previously practised as a tax lawyer with Stikeman Elliott LLP in Montreal, then created his own legal practice focusing on tax, charity, non-profit and LGBTQ law. Admitted to the bars of Ontario and Quebec, he obtained his BCL/LLB and LLM from McGill University and his LLM in tax from Osgoode Hall Law School. He articled with the National Judicial Institute and clerked at the Tax Court of Canada.