Making the State Responsible: Intersex Embodiment, Medical Jurisdiction and State Responsibility

Fae Garland, Mitchell Travis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Through consideration of new developments in the United Kingdom's intersex policy, this article traces the ways in which responsibility is produced, naturalized, and avoided by individuals, institutions, and the state. Jurisdiction is identified as a barrier to the attribution of responsibility that must be overcome to achieve progress in relation to the needs of intersex people. By bringing together jurisdictional analysis and vulnerability theory, this article demonstrates how the state has traditionally abrogated responsibility by compartmentalizing specific practices as governed by medical authority. It highlights that such accounts mask the role of the state in the creation of jurisdiction and the ways in which governance is conducted. Challenging these boundaries allows vulnerability theorists to move the state towards greater levels of responsibility. By combining these theoretical tools, the article enhances the practical utility of vulnerability theory and advances an important agenda for intersex people.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)298-324
Number of pages27
JournalJournal of Law and Society
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 21 May 2020


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