Smashing the Binary? A new era of legal gender registration in the Yogyakarta Principles Plus 10


  • Lena Holzer



This article analyses the potential of Principle 31 of the Yogyakarta Principles plus 10 to smash the gender binary. Principle 31 proposes several innovations with regards to the registration of people’s gender on official documents and/or in state registries. In order to understand the practical meanings of these innovations, the article inspects exemplary jurisdictions that have realised some of the Principle’s suggestions. Queer and feminist theories serve as the normative framework to understand how Principle 31 smashes the static binary gender registration in the form of F and M. Moreover, relying on developments in international law helps to comprehend the context in which Principle 31 was created and its innovative nature. The four central reforms proposed by Principle 31 are discussed in independent sections in the article. They include the elimination of gender markers, unconditional gender recognition laws, the introduction of non-binary legal gender categories and the elimination of the public gender registration. The article concludes that all of these four measures face specific limitations in how they smash the gender binary, but, as a whole, they trouble the naturalised understanding of dichotomous (legal) gender relations. Finally, Principle 31 alerts to the necessity of reducing the naturalised state control over people’s gender assignment, while making sure that where the state (still) has control, it valorises gender diversity outside of a binary frame.


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