Monro, Surya (2004) Theorising gender diversity. In: Sixth International Congress on Sex and Gender Diversity: Reflecting Genders, 10th - 12th September 2004, Manchester, UK. (Unpublished)

This paper aims to explore ways of theorising gender diversity. I start by demonstrating the ways in which gender and sexual orientation binaries are exploded by some types of trans and intersex identity. I then outline a range of theories concerning gender and critically evaluate these in relation to gender pluralism. Although aspects of second wave feminisms and masculinity studies are conceptually useful, they are flawed because they rely on discrete male-female categorisation. Postmodernist approaches provide crucial tools for conceptualising gender diversity, as does queer theory, but these bodies of theory have some limitations, such as a tendency to overlook bodily realities. I therefore explore a number of alternatives, that draw on postmodernism but combine this with a recognition of its limitations. These alternatives can be separated into three types: the broadening of the gender binary system, degendering, and gender pluralism. I argue that degendering is useful, but limited because it erodes the basis for gender politics, and that broadening the gender binary system, whilst important, fails to include people of all gender identities. Gender pluralism, whilst problematic in some ways, is the most fully inclusive approach. The paper draws on two empirical studies.

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