Documenting Gender

112 Pages Posted: 5 Aug 2008

See all articles by Dean Spade

Dean Spade

Seattle University School of Law

Date Written: August 4, 2008


This article provides an analysis of gender reclassification policies - policies that determine when an administrative agency will change an individual's gender marker on its records - in three contexts: policies related to placement in gender-segregated facilities, policies related to changing gender marker on ID, and policies related to the state provision of healthcare that is prohibited based on the gender on record for the person seeking care. The article looks at the significant variation in these policies across agencies to demonstrate the instability of gender as a category of identity verification and to ask whether the assumed usefulness of gender for identity tracking in the variety of state programs reviewed is well-founded. It also places these concerns in the context of the "War on Terror," which has included many policy innovations aimed at standardizing recordkeeping and surveillance nationally. By exposing the consequences of such national standardization in the specific instance of the gender reclassification rule matrix, this article raises questions about the nature of the "War on Terror" as a state-building project, classification as an equality issue, the limitations of privacy and accuracy-based critiques, and the role of surveillance in population-level state care-taking projects.

Keywords: transgender, surveillance, war on terror, identity documents, identity categories

Suggested Citation

Spade, Dean, Documenting Gender (August 4, 2008). Hastings Law Journal, Vol. 59, No. 1, 2008. Available at SSRN:

Dean Spade (Contact Author)

Seattle University School of Law ( email )

901 12th Avenue, Sullivan Hall
P.O. Box 222000
Seattle, WA n/a 98122-1090
United States

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