On 9 October 2018, FLaG co-hosted its first event at The Dickson Poon School of Law, King’s College London, with the Equality and Diversity Forum, a national network of organisations working across all areas of equality and human rights (now called Equally Ours).
Around 35 EDF members attended, representing a wide range of organisations – including those working in the fields of healthcare, housing and education, and those focusing on equality for women, people with disabilities, the elderly and LGBT people.
At a time of extensive discussion around the Gender Recognition Act and its possible reform, the seminar sought to address in more general and fundamental terms what part the law should play when it comes to people’s sex/gender. EDF’s Chief Executive, Ali Harris, who chaired the event, said “the seminar provided a fascinating opportunity to discuss the role of the law in both reflecting and shaping societal change and how people think about gender. The Equality and Diversity Forum are delighted to support KCL in encouraging constructive debate and developing a robust evidence base”.
Davina Cooper, opening the seminar, explained the value of a prefigurative law reform project , as a way of “creatively experimenting with what could be”, it asks “an open question about what more far-reaching law reform can accomplish than the law reform options currently on the table”, whilst still doing this in ways “that are embedded within current policy debates” and that “involve a range of people with different expertise and commitments”.
In this creative, collaborative spirit, participants broke-out into small groups to explore how they would like to see the future of gender, and what role they thought law could play in its transformation –whether this means diversifying gender, equalising gender, and/or abolishing gender. In fact, the project is asking: can the law do all three?
Groups also considered what the project could learn from other equality agendas and about how to reform legally assigned sex/gender status while continuing to address gender equality, e.g. from equality agendas relating to race, religion and sexual orientation. The legal and political relationship of gender to sex, and the future of this relationship, was another hot topic for discussion.