GSL Online

Gender & Sexuality Law Online is a webjournal published by the Columbia Law School Center for Gender & Sexuality Law.

How the Legal Regulation of Transgender Bodies Affects Us All

Author: Rita Vavra, LLM 2013


The legal regulation of transgender bodies, which is often highly oppressive, restrictive and arbitrary, is commonly regarded as a problem that only affects the transgender community and its allies. This essay, however, argues that the legal regulation of transgender bodies affects everyone – including gender nonconforming and gender conforming people. The law, by creating ideals of male/female bodies, masculine/feminine behavior and adequate sexuality, reinforces the gender binary and strengthens the concept of compulsory heterosexuality. Moreover, by policing the boundaries of sex, gender and sexuality in transgender cases, the law ensures that no one can easily transgress from socially acceptable gender norms.

This essay takes a disruptive approach to the legal policing of transgender identity: it tries to dismantle the reasons underlying the legal regulation of transgender bodies and to show their arbitrariness and oppressiveness towards everyone in society. In doing so, this essay particularly examines the legal problems surrounding gender-based dress codes, segregated public restrooms and the role of compulsory heterosexuality and highlights their consequences for every member of society.

Full Article: How the Legal Regulation of Transgender Bodies Affects Us All

Subjects: Gender Identity Discrimination, In This Issue

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