King's College London

Research portal

Pulling the thread of decertification: What challenges are raised by the proposal to reform legal gender status?

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Davina Cooper, Robyn Emerton

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-36
Issue number2
Early online date8 Nov 2020
Accepted/In press17 Sep 2020
E-pub ahead of print8 Nov 2020


King's Authors


In decertification, the state withdraws from registering, assigning, or guaranteeing a person’s sex and gender, giving one shape to the growing momentum towards their informalisation. This article explores decertification as a speculative reform, now emerging onto the political and legal agenda, in two primary ways. First, it asks what contribution, if any, might decertification make to a feminist politics intent on undoing gender-based hierarchies. Second, as a methodological thread, what concerns, issues, and hopes does decertification bring with it? In addressing these questions, the article considers different versions of decertification alongside an alternative reform strategy of legally recognising multiple gender identities. It explores the feminist benefits of decertification; the concerns and criticisms expressed; and strategies for responding to feminist worries. Here, the article turns to possible and already in-place governmental strategies to manage the informalisation of sex/ gender, alongside criticisms that can and have been made of these strategies. It then considers decertification’s relationship to other strategies that foreground purpose, specificity, connection, and context, within a politics intent on questioning and unsettling existing orderings. Finally, the article considers the risks of androcentrism and gender-neutral law; and argues for the need to embed decertification within a wider multiplex progressive agenda.

Download statistics

No data available

View graph of relations

© 2020 King's College London | Strand | London WC2R 2LS | England | United Kingdom | Tel +44 (0)20 7836 5454