Liberalism and the Construction of Gender (Non-)Normative Bodies and Queer Identities

In Alexandra Scheele, Julia Roth & Heidemarie Winkel (eds.), Global Contestations of Gender Rights. Bielefeld: Bielefeld University Press. pp. 269-286 (2022)
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The Yogyakarta Principles for the application of human rights to sexual orientation and gender identity define gender identity as “each person’s deeply felt internal and individual experience of gender, which may or may not correspond with the sex assigned at birth, including the personal sense of the body and other expressions of gender, including dress, speech, and mannerisms.” This definition and its acknowledgment within human rights politics is a key step in the fight of trans people for legal protection. Our aim is to analyze this definition both historically and systematically to find out how the Western liberal conception of rights fosters specific trans politics and limits the options for others. Specifically, we claim that political liberalism and the form of subjective rights that it brings about influence concepts of identity and political strategies. While we analyze the limits of the liberal framework, our aim is to think about how it is possible that even within this framework, non-normative bodies and queer identities can be acknowledged and supported through law.

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Karsten Schubert
University of Freiburg


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