Welcome!

I’m a PhD student in philosophy at the University of Arizona. My research focuses on issues at the intersection of feminist political philosophy, social metaphysics, and philosophy of law.

curriculum vitae

Research

My dissertation examines the challenges that transgender equality poses to our conception of gender equality, and in so doing, motivates and develops a trans feminist alternative.

To account for transgender equality in a way that speaks to trans people’s lived genders and gender realities on trans people’s own terms, I argue that feminist theory needs to take seriously both the gender (the social metaphysics) and the equality (the political philosophy) of gender equality, not just one or the other.

Public Writing

“Putting Gender Back into Transgender Equality: On Iglesias v. Federal Bureau of Prisons” (APA Blog, Law and Philosophy Series, September 2023)

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I discuss some of the issues with what I see as a gender-neutral, cis-centric conception of gender equality that has come to dominate U.S. law, focusing on the law’s systematic failure to protect incarcerated trans women’s health and bodily integrity.

Works in Progress

Please email me for the most recent drafts! :-)

“ ‘Medical Diagnosis, Not Sex or Gender Identity’: Transgender Equality and the Neutral Application Problem”

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Defendants in U.S. trans equality cases now standardly argue that it is not conceptually possible for discriminatory legislation targeting transgender people to violate constitutional guarantees of gender equality, because such legislation equally applies to all transgender persons regardless of gender. In fact, many have gone further to argue that anti-trans legislation cannot even be said to target transgender people specifically, as the discrimination can be easily redescribed as applying to only persons diagnosed with gender dysphoria, only persons seeking gender-affirming care—but not trans persons as a class. Increasingly, courts are finding this neutral application defense persuasive, and even those sympathetic to trans plaintiffs have responded in ways that further essentialize gender and pathologize trans people. This essay uncovers the social metaphysics and political philosophy implicit in mainstream gender equality law that give rise to the neutral application defense, and in so doing, develops and defends the first trans feminist alternative.

“On Our Own Terms: Trans Women Crafting the Meaning of ‘Woman’ ”

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Philosophical discussions of gender have not adequately appreciated the metaphysical significance of the creative, collaborative practice through which trans people manage to invent and reinvent interpretations of our bodies that for the first time make genuine sense of our lived genders and gender realities on our own terms—a practice that I call trans meaning crafting. Drawing on a wide range of trans meaning crafting practice with a focus on trans women’s negotiation of sexual intimacy in particular, this essay offers a clear account of what trans meaning crafting is, develops a metaphysics that makes it plausible, and considers its implications for the philosophical literature on gender. Recognizing trans meaning crafting, I argue, helps to uncover an overlooked empirical and explanatory constraint on theories of gender, not just a moral and political one, as the literature is now increasingly turning to.

“Is Euthyphro a Man Because He Identifies as a Man?”

Euthyphro is a man and he identifies as a man. Identity foundationalism holds that Euthyphro is a man because he identifies as a man; identity derivativism proposes that it is the other way around. This paper offers the first trans feminist argument for identity derivativism, appealing to its explanatory power and proceeding in two stages. First, I show that identity derivativism has distinctive explanatory advantages over identity foundationalism in theorizing trans people’s genders on our own terms. Next, I suggest that not only does the main challenge facing identity derivativism also arise for identity foundationalism, but in tackling it an identity derivativist can tap into conceptual resources not otherwise available to an identity foundationalist. On balance, then, identity derivativism comes out as the far more metaphysically—and, I think, methodologically and politically—promising view on the relationship between gender and gender identity.

“Taking Gender Seriously”

Transgender equality constitutes a pressing issue of gender equality. Surprisingly, however, neither philosophy nor law has conceptualized transgender equality meaningfully in gender equality terms. This essay develops and defends a trans feminist account that finally does. I start with the positive project of articulating this trans feminist account by distinguishing it from two leading analyses of transgender discrimination in U.S. law. I argue that transgender equality is gender equality not because it has to do with sex understood as biology or sex stereotypes understood as the social roles and expectations of our assigned sex, but because transgender equality means the equality of persons systematically disadvantaged by the social meaning of our bodies being interpreted as trans—the equality of trans persons, where trans persons make up a gender category for feminist analytical purposes. I then consider a gender-neutral, autonomy-based alternative currently popular in trans philosophy. The gender-neutral alternative fails, I conclude, precisely because it does not take the gender in transgender equality seriously.

[paper on trans feminism and pregnancy discrimination]

Teaching

Current Course

Feminist Philosophy (Spring 2024; Spring 2023)

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What is the nature of patriarchy, and what would it take to smash it? Can there be “pleasure under patriarchy” in the meantime? What is it to be gendered, to be sexed, to be constructed? What does being a woman mean to queer and trans women? Who and what is feminism ultimately a movement for? In this course, we will trace the development of contemporary feminist philosophy from the early days of the women’s liberation movement to the present, with an emphasis on trans and queer voices, issues, and experiences throughout this fraught history.

Courses Taught

Law and Morality (Winter 2023; Summer 2023; Summer 2021; Summer 2020)

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This course is an introduction to the philosophy of law in general and feminist philosophy of law in particular. We will consider several significant philosophical issues at the intersection of law and morality and explore their jurisprudential implications. Topics will include the nature of law, judicial discretion, constitutional and statutory interpretation, civil disobedience, racial equality, gender equality, sexual harassment, reproductive freedom, and LGBTQ+ equality.

Logic in Law (Fall 2022; Spring 2022)

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This course examines logical reasoning and conceptual analysis in the law, with a focus on the U.S. Supreme Court’s interpretation of the equal protection and due process requirements of the Fourteenth Amendment. Topics will include constitutional interpretation, stare decisis, the shadow docket, racial discrimination, sex discrimination, reproductive rights, physician-assisted suicide, and LGBTQ+ rights.

Medical Ethics (Fall 2021)

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In this course, we will examine a variety of normative issues in and about medicine. Many of the topics we are going to discuss are more or less standard in a medical ethics course, such as harm, abortion, physician-assisted suicide, medical paternalism and patient autonomy. But what makes our course distinct is we will also look at critical approaches that seek to challenge and expand the traditional themes and positions. Specifically, we will consider feminist relational conceptions of autonomy, the continued debate between biological determinism and social constructivism, epistemic injustice in the practice of medicine, the politics of reproductive care and gender-affirming care, the medical policing of intersex, trans, racialized and disabled bodies, and the connection between lived experiences of the body and structural injustice. In so doing, our aim is to further explore the ethics of medical care in light of its broader political and social significance.

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A Note on My Last Name & Pronouns

I do not use my legal last name for family-related reasons. “Ding” can function as both a first name and a last name.

I go by they/them and she/her.

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