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Authors

Alex Harris

Abstract

This essay seeks to bridge the gap between the UK legal system’s treatment of transsexuals and post-structuralist gender theory. It argues that whilst the greater representation of transsexuals in UK legal discourse embodied in the Gender Recognition Act is a positive move forward in terms of classic liberal notions of human rights and in its acceptance of transsexuals as proper subjects before the law, it nonetheless represents an essentialist conception of transsexuals; requiring them to ‘fit’ within binary categories of male and female. It is argued that post-structuralist thought regarding gender can illuminate some of the problems inherent within the UK legal system’s treatment of transsexuals and particularly focuses on the work of Judith Butler. There is further detailed consideration of the UK legal system’s treatment of transsexuals prior to the Gender Recognition Act and a response to some of the criticisms levelled at the applicability of Butlerian thought to real-world scenarios.

Note on the Author

Alex Harris, LLB, is undertaking a LLM in International Human Rights and Terrorism at Lancaster University.

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