Feminism and the Gender Recognition Act 2004


This paper argues, first, that the legal construction of transsexualism is a matter of interest, not only to members of the trans community, but to all students of gender, including feminists. The paper then proceeds to explain and analyse, using feminist perspectives, key aspects of the Gender Recognition Act 2004 in the light of the recent caselaw concerning the rights of trans persons. The 2004 Act, it is argued, is a conservative move, which attempts to deny the threat transsexualism poses to the binary system of gender, by instigating a system to formally ‘recognise’ only men and or women. However, the way in which the Act constructs the public/private divide and the mind/body relation carries potential for legal recognition of subject positions which may in a variety of ways be ‘beyond’ the binary system that is currently orthodox. The paper can as such be read as a case study in the legal (re)construction of gender, the gender/sex relation, and the widespread tendency to construct gender conservatively.

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Correspondence to Ralph Sandland.

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Sandland, R. Feminism and the Gender Recognition Act 2004. Feminist Legal Stud 13, 43–66 (2005). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10691-005-1456-3

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Key words

  • feminist theory
  • fluidity of gender
  • gender recognition
  • sex discrimination
  • social inclusion/exclusion
  • transsexualism