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The Gender Recognition Act 2004 and Transgender People's Legal Consciousness

Renz, Flora (2017) The Gender Recognition Act 2004 and Transgender People's Legal Consciousness. Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) thesis, University of Kent,. (Access to this publication is currently restricted. You may be able to access a copy if URLs are provided) (KAR id:65552)

Language: English

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Until the Gender Recognition Act (GRA) came into force in 2004 trans people in the UK were not able to legally change their birth certificates and other documents to accurately reflect the way they experienced their gender identity. Previous case law defined sex and gender in primarily biological terms and made several highly problematic assumptions about trans people. For example, it assumed that trans people were intentionally deceiving either potential partners or indeed the state, by wanting to access marriage rights while being in homosexual relationships. The GRA has supposedly revolutionised gender rights in the UK by moving away from a biological understanding of sex/gender and by making it possible for trans people to change their birth certificates, gain access to legal rights, and as a result enjoy protection against discrimination. However, it contains several provisions that effectively encourage trans people to regulate their gender identity. This regulation aims to enforce a binary gender framework; regardless of whether this binary reflects people's own understanding of gender.

Overall, the GRA seems designed to create subjects that govern their behaviour and self-expression in a way that aligns with a purely binary model of sex/gender and sexuality. Although a deviation from these norms does not incur any direct punishment it indirectly leads to a denial of rights and legal protections, which is particularly worrisome when considering the impact on those people, who are not just unwilling, but unable to meet the standards set out in the GRA. By reviewing relevant legislation and case law, and through qualitative research with people engaged with the GRA, I argue that instead of uncritically accepting or completely rejecting the GRA trans people engage with this law in a more sophisticated way. The GRA does not accurately reflect many trans people's own understanding of their gender identity or their sexuality. As a result people have to make strategic choices about how they present themselves to officials throughout the recognition process.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctor of Philosophy (PhD))
Thesis advisor: Cooper, Davina
Thesis advisor: Grabham, Emily
Uncontrolled keywords: Socio-legal transgender rights recognition
Subjects: K Law
Divisions: Divisions > Division for the Study of Law, Society and Social Justice > Kent Law School
SWORD Depositor: System Moodle
Depositing User: System Moodle
Date Deposited: 18 Dec 2017 15:10 UTC
Last Modified: 16 Feb 2021 13:52 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)
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