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Sex-Classification Policies as Transgender Discrimination: An Intersectional Critique

  • Heath Fogg Davis

Sex-classification policies are unjust because they prompt and authorize administrative agents to use their own subjective gender judgments to target, inspect, and exclude transgender-appearing people from the public accommodations under their watch. The vast majority of sex-classification policies are not rationally related to legitimate policy goals because there is no objective, socially agreed upon test for determining who is male and who is female, and legitimate policy goals such as fraud prevention, safety, security, and privacy can almost always be met more effectively by alternative means that do not subject people to gender inspection. I make a legal-normative argument for using gender-identity antidiscrimination laws to abolish sex-classification policies. I ground this radical proposal in a modified liberalism that treats sexual self-definition as an integral feature of liberal self-definition. Gender and intersectionality theorists rightly point out the deep structure of race-sex-class perception and oppression, but many of these theorists are too quick to dismiss the radical potential of gender-identity discrimination laws to eliminate, rather than modify, longstanding sex-classification policies. Racial, class and gender perception intersect to generate the possibility, rather than the inevitability, of invidious sex administration. And that is more than enough reason to abandon sex-classification policies.

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