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Wednesday 08 October 2008


Proclamations of the Red Queen

30th June 2008

Review: Transgender Rights (2006)

Posted by: Craig Young

 Paisley Currah, Richard Juang and Shannon Price Minter (ed) Transgender Rights: Minneapolis: University of Minnesota: 2006.

Most lesbian, gay and bisexual New Zealanders would agree with me that transgendered/fa’afafine/whakawahine folk have made notable contributions to our communities, and that they are integral elements of the diverse rainbow of our numbers. For example, Express’ commendably broad coverage of Agender’s latest conference in its latest issue is one such case in point.

New Zealand can be proud that we are a trendsetter when it comes to transgender rights, such as recognising gender identity status as a continuum, or reading gender identity into gender when it comes to family law and anti-discrimination¬† law. Both instances show that we are at the cutting edge of transgender legal theory and practice, even if we have yet to actually experience a test case that will see the full effects of the Solicitor General’s Crown Law Office opinion transformed into legal practice.

Predictably, given its national origins, much of this book deals with case law, legal reform and public health initiatives within the United States, although there are three standout chapters that deal with additional issues. One chapter discusses the Colombian Constitutional Court’s trendsetting jurisprudence when it comes to intersexed infants and informed consent. Willy Wilkinson has contributed a useful chapter that deals with San Franscisco’s civic gender identity anti-discrimination ordinances and public health initiatives. Mauro Cabral and Paula Uittiro discuss transgender rights concerns in Argentina, while Dean Spade offers a particularly incisive essay on the transgendered poor in the United States, and how the New Right/Christian Right distorted emphasis on marriage and central government welfare slashbacks have savage consequences for those who do not fall into heterosexist concepts of ‘authorised’ sexuality, ‘orthodox’ gender identity and kinship relationships.

This is an enthralling, gripping work, and I am pleased to recommend it, given its salience to our own struggles and strategies for justice and inclusion for the transgender communities in Aotearoa/New Zealand.

Tags: Politics

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