In her classic and seminal monograph, Gender Trouble (Routledge, 1990) Judith Butler develops a conceptual framework to question the dichotomy of “gender” and “sex.” She argues against “sexual dimorphism” as a fact of nature and argues for a mutual dependence of a society’s notion of gender and biological theories of human sexuality.
In 2018 the UK government proposed changes to the Gender Recognition Act of 2004. Section 9(1) of that act specifies:
“Under the Act, a transgender person may apply for a Gender Recognition Certificate. Once granted and by virtue of section 9(1): ‘the person’s gender becomes for all purposes the acquired gender (so that, if the acquired gender is the male gender, the person’s sex becomes that of a man and, if it is the female gender, the person’s sex becomes that of a woman).’”
The UK government has proposed changes to the application process for two reasons:
(1) It causes unnecessary complications for disadvantaged transgender individuals.
(2) It pathologizes transgenderism.
Critics of the proposed reforms object on two grounds:
(1) Gender change mustn’t be too informal; there should be involvement of medical professionals.
(2) The original law of 2004 is defective in its ontology and ignores science: male bodies with vaginas and female bodies with penises are conceptually confused notions.
In your essay, please respond to the second objection. In your response you must take into consideration any of the relevant course material covered up to March 4, 2020, and the following two readings (available online through UofT Libraries):
(1) Pages 1-46 of Butler’s Gender Trouble (available online as ebook through UofT Libraries)
(2) Sharpe, Andrew. 2007. “A Critique of the Gender Recognition Act 2004.” Bioethical Inquiry 4: 33-42 (available online through UofT Libraries).