Works in progress

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

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

Leading philosophical accounts of “woman” follow what I consider a top-down approach: they begin with what being a woman means to cis women within dominant cultural spaces and social relations, and then struggle to apply and extend that analysis to trans women. Instead of fitting trans women awkwardly into a top-down analysis that wasn’t built for us in the first place, this essay hopes to pursue a trans feminist alternative—a bottom-up approach that aims to take up trans women’s own interpretation of our richly and beautifully varied bodies on our own terms. On such a bottom-up analysis, “woman” means, and properly means, what trans feminism, not the dominant cisheterosexist society, makes of it. (handout)

“Pregnant Persons as a Gender Category: A Trans Feminist Analysis of Pregnancy Discrimination”

How should we make sense of pregnancy discrimination as a form of sex discrimination? In a striking 1974 case, Geduldig v. Aiello, the U.S. Supreme Court has answered that we simply cannot. Pregnancy discrimination does not constitute sex discrimination, the 6–3 majority claims, because a line drawn along pregnancy is only a sex-neutral line between pregnant women and nonpregnant persons, not the sex line between women and men. Unfortunately, feminist philosophers of law have too often responded by doubling down on an awkwardly cissexist conception of gender, identifying the sex discrimination in the “direct” relation pregnancy is thought to bear on womanhood and thus sex. In this essay, I argue that pregnancy discrimination is based on sex not because pregnancy is in one way or another distinctive of women as a gender, but because pregnant persons constitute a gender category of their own. When a pregnant person is discriminated against because of pregnancy, then, they are discriminated against not as a woman but as a pregnant person—that is, directly and immediately, because of gender. (handout)