Naming the Grotesque Body in the 'Nascent Jurisprudence of Transsexualism'

60 Pages Posted: 10 Jun 2007

See all articles by Richard F. Storrow

Richard F. Storrow

City University of New York School of Law


In a legal system wedded to the notion that only two mutually exclusive sexes coexist, transsexualism poses a daunting challenge. In the legal realm, where judges purport to decide disputes based on principles of justice, fairness and adherence to stare decisis, transsexualism engenders responses ranging from understanding and acceptance to disbelief and hostility. These responses engender curiosity as to what influences underlie their inconsistency. This Article explores the inconsistency in judicial reactions to transsexualism and attempts to shed light on why issues of gender incongruence raised by this phenonmenon are so troubling to the bench. After a discussion of the discrepancies in courts' use of medical authority in cases considering the rights of transsexuals, and their ultimate refusal to recognize transsexuals' psychological sex, the forces possibly compelling such inconsistencies will be examined with the aid of certain literary and psychological theories.

Keywords: transsexualism, marriage, prisoners' rights, employment discrimination, parental rights, changes of name

Suggested Citation

Storrow, Richard F., Naming the Grotesque Body in the 'Nascent Jurisprudence of Transsexualism'. Michigan Journal of Gender & Law Vol. 4, No. 2, 1996-1997, Available at SSRN:

Richard F. Storrow (Contact Author)

City University of New York School of Law ( email )

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