The Borders of Gender: Law, Securitization, and Trans and Non-Binary Subjectivities

This project analyses how binary gender norms impact mobility.

Transgender colors in marble abstract background texture

Taking a mixed-methods approach that integrates ethnography, socio-legal analysis, and visual/artistic analysis, the research juxtaposes AI-driven biometric security technologies (e.g., full-body scanning, facial recognition) with recent legislative interventions that attempt to be inclusive of trans and gender diverse populations, including third gender and non-binary options in a range of locations (e.g., Australia, New Zealand, Nepal, India, Malta, Canada, the Netherlands, Germany). Although proponents of biometrics claim the technology is neutral and based on predictive algorithms, human assumptions about gender and race are encoded into their operational elements, which are calibrated to whiteness and binary gender. The project’s preliminary findings reveal a complex set of negotiations for trans and gender diverse individuals, elucidating dynamics between macro-level practices of power and micro-level articulations of resistance that interrupt the normative functions of law and security.

This research intervenes in international debates on identity politics and discussions around gender identity, documentation, algorithmic technology, and mobility. Adopting an interdisciplinary perspective that combines the humanities, social sciences, and law, this project contributes to the fields of transgender studies, migration studies, and critical security studies. By investigating tensions between border security and transgender rights, this research interfaces with crucial policy questions and strives to make a tangible impact by building sustainable and substantive connections with relevant stakeholders and collaborators, in Australia and internationally.

In addition to regular publications and conference presentations, this project aims to integrate public engagement activities that reach out to stakeholders, including community and advocacy groups, industry, lawyers, border police, and policymakers.

Project details


Dr. C.L. Quinan