Transgender Trouble. A Transdisciplinary Approach to Transsexual Rights

Di Sandra Martini Vial, Gloria Origgi

In: Riconoscersi. Corpo e gender tra individuale e sociale XLII , No. 1-3 ( 2013 )

Sezione Saggi / Articles


This paper is the result of a collaboration between a philosopher and a sociologist of health and human rights, both interested in transdisciplinary approaches to social sciences. While working together in Porto Alegre and in Paris, we realized that sex, more than gender, is one of the most interesting transdisciplinary notions in contemporary social sciences and that the failure of treating it in transdisciplinary terms still has weighty consequences in political and legal decisions regarding the recognition of transsexual identity. In our analysis, we focus on the normative consequences of ambiguous conceptions of sex by comparing legal sentences on sex change in Brazil and Europe and commenting on the recent Argentinian adoption of a jurisdiction that recognizes transgender rights by clearly distinguishing gender identity from the anatomical/biological sexual identity determined at birth. We conclude that a fully developed consideration of transsexuality as a human and health right should normatively account for the distinction between sex and gender. This will improve the rights not only of transsexuals but also of all the transgender attitudes towards sexuality (that is attitudes aimed at weakening the sharp opposition between male and female) that struggle to be recognized because of the conceptual confusions between different interpretations of sexual identity.