Date of Award

Spring 5-10-2021

Document Type

Undergraduate Honors Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy




Evelyn Kirkley


In this essay, I explore the issue of transgender/nonbinary/gender nonconforming (henceforth referred to as TNBGNC) oppression and exclusion through a philosophical lens. To do so, I use the notion of personhood. I ask the question: How are TNBGNC individuals excluded from personhood and its associated rights? To be a person is the first qualification for rights such as political involvement and social inclusion. I argue that societal conceptions of personhood are rooted in the gender binary, and that sexual difference and gender performance are essential for recognition as a person worthy of such rights. Therefore, TNBGNC oppression and exclusion is not an issue that can be solved with mere policy change and superficial acceptance; rather, personhood itself and what it means to be a human person must be reconstructed in a way that is not conditioned upon gender performance and sexual difference. For the purposes of this paper, I focus specifically on the ways in which personhood as we know it is flawed; I do not, however, address how exactly we might restructure personhood as such. I leave that issue for a future endeavor.