Toggle Main Menu Toggle Search

Open Access padlockePrints

Governing Juridical Sex: Gender Recognition and the Biopolitics of Trans Sterilisation in Finland

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Jemima Repo



This is the authors' accepted manuscript of an article that has been published in its final definitive form by Cambridge University Press, 2019.

For re-use rights please refer to the publisher's terms and conditions.


In many countries, compulsory sterilisation is still a precondition for amending juridical sex. Drawing on feminist and queer debates on the entanglement of recognition with governmentalisation, this article moves beyond a human rights frame to examine how struggles for legal gender recognition are bound up with the production and discipline of trans subjectivities, bodies and relationships. It argues that rights and recognition may not only reinscribe regulation, but they also are a means of rendering trans subjects governable. By theorising gender identity as a biopolitical discourse that produces trans subjects, the article genealogically examines the problematisation of ‘gender identity’ in Finnish welfare population governance practices leading up to the 2003 Finnish gender recognition law. The analysis demonstrates how the discourse of ‘equality’ was key for producing a clearly defined trans population that could be identified, assessed, and hence, governed. While the sterilisation requirement was justified as a replacement for former castration laws which had been used by MtF transsexuals to access genital surgery, it also acted as a disciplinary technology to neutralise the alleged threats to normative forms of kinship that could be produced through gender recognition. Finally, the article considers points of resistance and avenues for further research.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Repo J

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Politics & Gender

Year: 2019

Volume: 15

Issue: 1

Pages: 83-106

Print publication date: 01/03/2019

Online publication date: 25/07/2018

Acceptance date: 05/05/2018

Date deposited: 08/05/2018

ISSN (print): 1743-923X

ISSN (electronic): 1743-9248

Publisher: Cambridge University Press


DOI: 10.1017/S1743923X1800034X


Altmetrics provided by Altmetric