T: Appending Transgender Equal Rights to Gay, Lesbian and Bisexual Equal Rights

By Adler, Libby | Columbia Journal of Gender and Law, Fall 2010 | Go to article overview

T: Appending Transgender Equal Rights to Gay, Lesbian and Bisexual Equal Rights


Adler, Libby, Columbia Journal of Gender and Law


In recent years, the identity group of transgender persons has been cohering and bringing its concerns to the attention of progressive legal thinkers as well as to organs of government. In the domain of conventional anti-discrimination coverage, (1) the result has been a number of local ordinances, (2) a few state laws (3) and a modest number of victories in judicial settings. (4) In addition, advocates for transgender concerns have taken up family issues such as whether gender identity poses obstacles to child custody, (5) access to medical services associated with gender transition (6) and the processes for legally changing one's name (7) and gender. (8)

The law review literature in this area has taken off like a rocket. Much of the academic thought devoted to transgender issues has focused on the problem of judicial determinations of an individual's gender, (9) whether and how to gain coverage for gender identity under Title VII, (10) the advantages and pitfalls of a disability-rights framework that medicalizes trans identity, (11) issues specific to youth (especially youth in foster care and in the juvenile justice system), (12) prisoner classification and sex-segregation (13) and insurance coverage for gender-affirming care. (14) A few critically-inclined thinkers have focused on the power that formal and discretionary bureaucratic decisions have on trans people and on the limits of formal equality, though these voices are a bit lonely. (15)

Because law reform in this area is still nascent, the strategic choices that reformers make now could have lasting effects on both law and identity. As anyone close to the subject matter will attest, one choice appears well on its way to being made: "T" is being appended to "GLB," indicating a similarity, but not an identity, of interests between transgender persons and gays, lesbians and bisexuals. Politically, the spot adjacent to the "GLB" sexuality constituencies seems the obvious home for the trans constituency, though--as many trans advocates have noted--it presents the danger that trans issues will be neglected or even excluded by the relatively more powerful gay-identified constituency, or at least a sector thereof. (16)

Moreover, the alliance is analytically complex due to the foggy interrelationship between identity and desire. (17) That is, as trans advocates struggle to individuate from the sexuality constituencies, they can sometimes be heard to protest that gender regards who they are, rather than whom they want. (18) The line separating those facets of personality is a bit less pristine than such a formulation would allow, however, and the vast number of self-descriptions one encounters in the real world frustrates any such doctrines.

This Article will take up yet another concern raised by appending the T to the GLB, namely that the association between gender identity and sexual orientation seems to be contributing to an equal rights-based, identitarian strategy. As I have argued elsewhere, (19) this path has had under-acknowledged costs for members of sexuality and gender-based identity groups. This Article focuses its speculation on the costs that transgender constituencies could face and urges trans advocates to consider such costs as they make their reformist choices. The Article then highlights possible opportunities for reform that are not dependent on equal rights.

I. INDETERMINACY OF RIGHTS REASONING AND THE SUMMONING OF ANTAGONISTIC RIGHTS

A recurring yet under-appreciated problem with rights argumentation, and with equality and anti-discrimination arguments in particular, is the problem of indeterminacy. This problem has been aired by legal scholars associated with Critical Legal Studies (CLS) (20) and it has a few features that are relevant here.

One problem is epistemological. Any time a judge is charged with deciding how to "treat like cases alike," he or she must determine what constitutes likeness. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

T: Appending Transgender Equal Rights to Gay, Lesbian and Bisexual Equal Rights
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.