The Control and Determination of Gender and Sexual Identity in Law.

Beresford, Sarah (2000) The Control and Determination of Gender and Sexual Identity in Law. PhD thesis, UNSPECIFIED.

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This thesis argues that the legal subject is unable to exercise control over their sexual and gender identity in law. In other words, I suggest that identity is controlled not by the individual, but by law. My focus is female gender and sexual identity with particular reference to lesbian sexual identity. I suggest that the legal 'meaning' given by law to the 'categories' of 'woman', 'mother' and 'lesbian' and so forth, are of central importance to law in its determination of 'identity'. I argue that this is a continuing process and takes place not only within the context of hetero-centric values, assumptions and norms, but also by the operational nature of 'distinct' epistemological fields within law. As a result, identity, is created by legal discourse, not the individual. I focus upon the ways in which female identity is represented within the contexts of 'the family and marriage'; child custody disputes; familial property disputes; visual rhetoric and biological determinism. I argue that lesbian identity within law continues to be rendered 'the other' and 'the invisible' due to the 'location' of lesbian identity in the network of heterosexual legal and social power relations.

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Thesis (PhD)
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02 May 2019 16:28
Last Modified:
04 Nov 2023 01:19