Gender diversity, recognition and citizenship

Representing the civil recognition of gender transition, the Gender Recognition Act (GRA, 2004) marks an important change in attitudes towards transgender people, enabling the change of birth certificates and granting transgender people the right to marry in their acquired gender.

The GRA brings a new framework of understanding 'sex' and gender, and the relationship between these concepts.

Moreover, the GRA reflects broader social changes around the conceptualisation and the practices of identity, signposting transgender as an arena in which questions of gendered, sexual, intimate and embodied identity and citizenship are being debated, contested and reconfigured.

This project examined the impact of the GRA on the formation and the experiences of individual and collective transgender identities in the UK. It also explored the social relations, identities and cultural values that shape the GRA, and the ways in which the GRA constructs these in turn.

Central to such themes is the site of the body. Crucially, the legislation detaches the legal recognition of 'sex' from the requirement of surgical intervention.

Yet, to gain gender recognition, a congruent relationship between gender identity and gender presentation must be 'proven' to a 'gender recognition panel'. The body, and its relationship with gender and sexuality, is thus pivotal to the GRA.

Accordingly, the project explored the intersections of individual and collective understandings of the body and bodily practices, and broader social, cultural, legal and medical discourses around the (trans) body.

Specifically, the project:

  • examined the extent to which 'gender recognition' characterises continuities and/or changes to the medicalisation of transgender, and the pathologisation of the transgendered body
  • explored the ways in which policies of 'gender recognition' privilege the body as a site of gendered and sexual citizenship or non-citizenship
  • analysed the role of the body in (trans) gendered and sexual politics around 'recognition' and assimilation
  • explored the extent to which 'gender recognition' (re)constructs an 'ideal' trans aesthetic as a marker of gendered 'realness', and examined the ways in which such 'ideals' are resisted.