CASCA Women’s Network Roundtable

Human Rights, Gender, and Conflicts of Cultural, Legal and Bio-Genetic Categories

Thurs 21 Nov, 2:30-3:50 pm

Off-site: Room 7000, 7th Floor, Harbour Centre Campus of Simon Fraser University, 515 W Hastings Street, Vancouver

Chair and Organizer: Pauline McKenzie Aucoin

  • Dr Ann Travers is a professor of Sociology at Simon Fraser University, Vancouver whose research deals with issues of transgender athletes, inclusion, sport and social justice. 
  • Dr. Jill LeClair is a Research Associate, Centre for Business in Society (CBiS), Coventry University, UK who studies sports, classification and inclusion in the context of disability and sports. 
  • Professor Patricia Barkaskas, JD is a Lecturer in the  Indigenous Legal Studies Program at UBC, Vancouver and the Academic Director of the Indigenous Community Legal Clinicof thePeter A. Allard School of Law, UBC.
  • Dr Christina Holmes is an anthropologist of science and technology studies and medical anthropologist at St. Francis Xavier University, Antigonish, N.S.,  whose current research addresses issues of emerging technologies, ethics, and legitimacy studies. 

This roundtable, open to all, addresses issues and conflicts concerning human rights, gender, intersex and transgender identity, the exercise of biopower through regulatory practice, and public policy as these relate to the ways that classificatory processes operate to create criteria for inclusion and exclusion in gender categories as defined by and for international sports competition, a site where deeply held cultural knowledge and bio-genetic power intersect (Henne 2002; Foucault 2007). Issues raised by current classification systems include the ongoing ethics of bio-genetic testing, the exclusion of naturally occurring body diversities, privacy, and the increasing realization that current scientific knowledge fails to comprehend both the complexity of gender variations and the advantages they may or may not provide for competition (as evidenced by the recent restrictions placed on Carla Semenya). In the context of the sports arena, which continues to operate within the limits of the West’s culturally informed, two-gender binary system (Rupert 2011), it also raises the issue of fairness where classification aims at establishing ‘categories’ of equivalence’ for competition. Relevant to this discussion as well is an appreciation that sport competitions in Indigenous and other non-Western contexts operate within non-binary gender systems, recognizing for example two-spirited individuals; models that offer alternatives that can reduce exclusions from future international sport systems. 

Following this Roundtable, the Women’s Network will hold its ticketed Annual Reception at the same Harbour Centre at 515 West Hastings Street. Details for the reception are here.