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Critique Essay Humanities Law/Legal Nonfiction Social Sciences Theory

How non-binary gender definitions confound (already complex) thinking about gender and public policy

By Carol Chetkovich, 2019

A course on gender and public policy can introduce students to methods of policy analysis in the context of social-justice problems. Using a combination of empirical studies and analytic tools, students learn how social conditions and policies differentially affect women and men, and they can identify implications for gender equity. But our world includes non-binary gender types—transgender, genderqueer, and intersex people (some of whom are our students). How can an analysis built on strictly binary comparisons be reconfigured to include more gender diversity? The answers depend in part on how gender is conceptualized (is it a fixed, measurable dimension of identity or something socially constructed?). Exploring three conceptual approaches to gender, this article identifies three more inclusive teaching and research strategies: the expansion of gender types in quantitative analysis, the consideration of non-binary gender social roles, and the interrogation of binary inequalities assumed to be natural and inevitable.

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