Loading Events

« All Events

  • This event has passed.

Changing Sex/Changing Sexuality — Reimagining the Mutability of Sex, Gender and Sexual Orientation in Science and Law

January 31, 2014 @ 9:00 am - 4:15 pm


S.J. Quinney College of Law, Sutherland Moot Courtroom

Historically, the law has embraced popular understandings of sex and gender as set at birth, binary in nature, common to all people, and unchangeable across the lifespan. In turn, the law has cast individuals who deviate from this vision as mentally ill, emotionally unstable, and unworthy of legal protection. At the same time, the law has long viewed homosexuality as a behavior or choice, and therefore sought to prevent lesbians, gay men, and bisexuals from recruiting others into a deviant “lifestyle.” The LGBT movement has countered this claim by insisting that a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity cannot be chosen, changed, or controlled.

Watch a 3 minute video on Professor Terry Kogan’s introduction to the topic »

Recently, some scientists have asserted that change, not stability, is a fundamental feature of sex, gender, and sexual orientation. Drawing on “dynamic systems” approaches, they have begun to challenge the popular dichotomy between nature and nurture, and to show that fluidity is a pervasive aspect of sexual development. This developing body of research has become a flashpoint in the struggle to extend full rights to sexual minorities.

This Symposium brings together scholars from a broad range of disciplines including biology, anthropology, psychology, cultural studies, and law to explore the significance of change and variation in scientific and legal understandings of sex and sexuality and the implications of these understandings for LGBT rights.

This event is co-sponsored by the University of Utah S.J. Quinney College of Law, the University of Utah College of Social and Behavioral Sciences, and the University of Utah Gender Studies program.

Keynote: Anne Fausto-Sterling, Brown University, Biology and Gender Studies

Dr. Anne Fausto-Sterling is a leading expert in biology and gender development and has achieved recognition for works that challenge entrenched scientific beliefs while engaging with the general public. Using a groundbreaking new approach to understanding gender differences, Dr. Anne Fausto-Sterling is shifting old assumptions about how humans develop particular traits. Dynamic systems theory permits one to understand how cultural difference becomes bodily difference. By applying a dynamic systems approach to the study of human development, Dr. Fausto-Sterling’s work exposes the flawed premise of the nature versus nurture debate. Read more >>

5.5 hours of CLE, email communications@law.utah.edu


8:30 a.m. – Continental Breakfast

9:00 – 10:30 a.m. – Panel One & Discussion
Fluidity & Sexual Orientation — Science & Law
Lisa Diamond – University of Utah, Psychology
Michael Boucai – SUNY Buffalo, Law

10:30 – 10:45 a.m.  Break

10:45 – 11:45 a.m. – Keynote Speech & Discussion
Dynamic Systems Theory, Sex & Gender
Anne Fausto-Sterling – Brown University, Biology and Gender Studies

12:00 – 1:00 p.m. Lunch

1:00 – 2:30 p.m. – Panel Two & Discussion
The Mutability of Sex and Gender —Science & Law
Katrina Karkazis – Stanford University, Center for Biomedical Ethics
Terry Kogan – University of Utah, Law

2:30 – 2:45 p.m.  Break

 2:45 – 4:15 p.m. – Panel Three & Discussion
The Evolving Queer Child in Law and Culture
Cliff Rosky – University of Utah, Law
Kathryn Stockton – University of Utah, English and Gender Studies


January 31, 2014
9:00 am - 4:15 pm
Event Category:


S. J. Quinney College of Law
383 South University St
Salt Lake City, UT 84112 United States