This three-year project on the Future of Legal Gender is funded by the UK Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC). It runs from May 2018 until April 2021.
The aim of the project is to critically explore different ways of reforming legal gender. Its core question is whether we still need a legal gender status at all. What would be the social, cultural and political implications of abolishing legal gender status? What fears, concerns, and challenges would this proposal invoke? The project will draw on experiences in other countries, the legal approach taken towards other social characteristics, such as religion, ethnicity and sexuality, and the views of activists, policy-makers, NGOs, lawyers and the wider public.
Phase One of the research is already underway. We are looking at current legal systems for determining and regulating gender around the world. Drawing on international developments, activist arguments, and principles of good law reform, we aim to chart four or five possible options for legal gender reform in England and Wales, including the complete abolition of legal gender status.
The second phase of our research will explore the implications of the four or five different reform frameworks developed in phase one. At this point, our research will divide into four separate strands.
The final phase of the project will provide a concluding, feminist assessment of potential principles underlying law reform in this area, and the viability, strengths and weaknesses of different law reform options.