De-producing Gender: The Politics of Sex, Decertification, and the Figure of Economy

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This article explores the contribution that the figure of economy can make to understanding gender in contemporary Britain, focusing on gender as a social quality that is produced, allocated, and used. The article proceeds in two parts. The first part considers the politics of sex-based feminism and gender-as-diversity through an economic frame. The second part focuses, in detail, on one specific juncture where these diverging politics meet: decertification - a law reform proposal to dismantle the system for registering, assigning, and regulating legal sex. Decertification is a controversial strategy. While advocates argue that gender’s use for self-expression, identification, and interpersonal communication is hindered by a state-based disciplinary certification system, critics disagree. Critics argue that dismantling communication about a person’s sex makes it harder to put categories of female and woman to remedial use. Drawing on other uses of certification, including commercial ones, this article suggests that certification not only communicates information about a process, quality, or thing; it also contributes to their production. The impact of decertification on how gender is produced, what gets produced as gender, and the uses to which gender is put are central to determining whether decertification is beneficial to a progressive gender politics.
Original languageEnglish
JournalFeminist Theory
Early online date5 Feb 2023
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 5 Feb 2023


  • gender, sex, certification, economy, social imaginary, diversity, equality


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