Phase Two

Assessing Different Reform Frameworks

Phase Two explored the implications of abolishing or radically reforming the legal gendering of personhood.  This legal gendering happens in various ways, including through the registering of sex at birth (see our Q &A).  The research was divided into the following strands.  Research findings and analysis from Phase Two can be read here and are also available as a podcast.

Strand One: Implications for sex/gender-specific provision

How would changes to the current legal status of sex/gender affect the provision of sex/gender-specific services?   The first strand of Phase Two considered how sex/gender-specific services might respond to, expand upon, or be challenged by changes to the current legal framework in this area.   Future of Legal Gender focuses on three key sites: schools, shelters, and refuges.

We carried out interviews with policy experts and service providers from these key sites to investigate how services currently determine sex/gender in their respective contexts and the challenges future legal changes might pose to the way in which they presently operate.

Listen to Dr Flora Renz discussing the potential implications of decertification for single-sex schools and domestic violence services.

Read more about our key findings from strand one.


Jonathan Gross, Flickr

Strand Two: Implications for advancing equality  

If people no longer had a legal sex or gender, what effect might this have on struggles to advance social equality and justice?

In the second strand, we explored the relationship between decertification and advancing equality in relation to disability, ethnicity, sexuality, religion, and class as well as gender.

Our research involved interviews with over 80 people including members of public bodies, such as local authorities, along with NGOs, activists, lawyers, and academics.

Read more about our key findings from strand two.


Michael Cory, Flickr

Strand Three: Implications for the wider public

The third strand explored what legal gender status means for the public, and whether it matters to individuals in their everyday lives. We conducted an online survey and 44 semi-structured interviews to collect information about the significance of legal gender in everyday life and the appetite for reform. We chose this approach to give us a large-scale picture of the issues across different groups.

Attitudes to Gender, the online survey, was open from October to December 2018 to anyone over the age of 18. We asked for opinions on the significance of gender, including the categories of female/male in everyday life, and views on whether the law should be reformed so that infants are no longer legally declared female/male at birth. We received 3,101 responses from a range of publics. Learn more about our survey respondents.

Interviews were conducted with a range of people including 27 cisgender women, 8 cisgender men, and 9 trans and gender diverse people. 14 interviewees were parents of dependent children. The average age of interviewees was 43 years, ranging from 20 to 77 years old.

Read more about our key findings from strand three.


Thomas Hawk, Flickr

Strand Four: Statutory and administrative implications

The fourth strand explored the technical challenges of reforming legal gender across England and Wales. It focused on the statutory drafting process and the administrative implications of reforming legal gender. We carried out interviews with parliamentary drafts people, technical experts in specific areas of law, academics and NGO specialists.

This research is discussed further in ‘Exploring the Textual Alchemy of Legal Gender: Experimental Statutes and the Message in the Medium’ by Emily Grabham.

Read more about our key findings from strand four. 

Photo by Shahzaib Khan on Unsplash

Read about Phase Three of the project here.

Return to the overview of the  project here.