Acting as if other law reform options were already on the table?

by Davina Cooper | Photo: Thomas Hawk. Flickr.

Now is an exciting time to be asking the question: do we need an assigned legal gender.

Our recently started research project on gender’s legal future is situated in a swirl of critical and creative approaches to gender and its possible futures – in terms of what gender means, what it does, and how it can (or can’t) be lived. It is also situated in the midst of legal and political debates about gender transitioning. In different countries, amid social movement and activist pressure, governments are deciding how to reform the ways gender status is determined and altered.

Prefigurative law reform provides a way of thinking about how to change statutory law, engaging with current options but from a different place.

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Diversifying, Abolishing, Equalising Gender… Can the Law Do All Three?

by Davina Cooper | Photo: Ben Kanter

Legal gender status is currently in tremendous upheaval. What once seemed biologically settled facts – two sexes identified at birth – is now subject to a swirl of different politics. Can we change our gender? What is the relationship of gender to sex? How does gender connect to domination and to how society is organised? And what future might we hope for gender – in what it means and how it is lived?

The Future of Legal Gender project explores these questions, focusing on the specific role of law and legal gender status. The question of legal gender status is today the subject of intense political debate and policy discussion in Britain and elsewhere. We aim to contribute to wider debates and law reform processes by exploring:

  • longer-term directions for legal gender (beyond the exigencies and pragmatism of parliamentary and party politics);
  • how to untangle some of the conceptual differences (and stakes) in the conflicting ways that gender is understood;
  • the principles that might contribute to good feminist law-making, such as equality, justice and care;
  • what gender could come to mean and be.

Our first blog post takes up the problem of gender status and traces some different pathways for its reform.

Continue reading “Diversifying, Abolishing, Equalising Gender… Can the Law Do All Three?”