Cross Dressing and the Criminal

38 Pages Posted: 1 Dec 2007


Drawing upon cultural studies, literary theory, and criminal law, Cross Dressing and the Criminal argues that cross dressing as a metaphor, as a sign, as a practice has the potential to subvert not only expectations about gender, but also about race, sexuality, class, and status. Taking up Judith Butler's suggestion that we could all benefit from serious play, and turning to the criminal arena, this essay conceptualizes a justice system in which officers, prosecutors, jurors, and judges engage in imaginative acts of cross dressing in cases where implicit biases may be present. Such imaginative acts, the essay argues, would not only have the salutary effect of foregrounding such biases. It would also allow decision-makers to override them.

Keywords: criminal law, criminal procedure, race, gender, class, sexuality, cross dressing, drag, Martha Stewart, O.J. Simpson, McKleskey v. Kemp, Judith Butler, rape

Suggested Citation

Capers, I. Bennett, Cross Dressing and the Criminal. Yale Journal of Law and the Humanities, Vol. 20, 2008; Hofstra Univ. Legal Studies Research Paper No. 07-33. Available at SSRN:

I. Bennett Capers (Contact Author)

Brooklyn Law School ( email )

250 Joralemon Street
Brooklyn, NY 11201
United States


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