Webinar: Brain-sex binary and the law

Intersex Human Rights Australia begins a regular webinar series with this free 1-hour webinar on Wednesday 30 June 2021 by Aileen Kennedy.

How do judges make decisions about the nature of sex and gender? In this webinar, Aileen looks at the influence of theories that gender is determined by our brain architecture – based on the idea that men and women have distinctly different brains. This theory seems to underpin judicial support for medical interventions to change the bodies of trans minors to reflect their gender identity. By contrast, decisions approving medical interventions on intersex children do not rely on brain-based gender theories. Instead, judges adopt the framework used by doctors. That framework developed 70 years ago and has since been thoroughly debunked. Aileen explores why this out-of-date theory continues to dominate medical attitudes to intersex people.

Aileen Kennedy is a board member of Intersex Human Rights Australia and a lecturer in law at the University of New England (UNE). She spent ten years in legal practice and seven years in legal academia prior to commencing at UNE in 2003. Her research is in the area of health law, currently focusing on the law relating to cosmetic surgery, female genital mutilation, voluntary amputation and other non-therapeutic body modifications. A focus of her research is on legal and ethical issues relating to biotechnological innovation such as assisted reproductive technology, genetics and neuroscience. She is interested in feminist theory, particularly theories of embodiment.

This free webinar was held via Zoom on Wednesday 30 June 2021 from 6:00 pm – 7:30 pm AEST.