For a very long time, issues of sexuality and gender remained outside the boundaries of what was considered important legal scholarship. Indeed, the very presence in the legal academy of the concepts of sexuality and gender was viewed as barely legitimate, certainly not respectable, and, in intellectual terms, at best facetious1—or, to let Justice White rest in peace, at best frivolous.
One result of this now dying worldview was a series of categorical exclusions and erasures—exemplified by the exclusion of sexual speech from the First Amendment, the exclusion of nonreproductive kinship networks from the definition of family, the exclusion of gender performance from the category of protected expression, and the erasure of culturally legible same-sex desire through the mechanism of criminalization. Although instances of erasure and exclusion continue today, the period of a hegemonic paradigm of occlusion has ended.
Today, few voices would contest that sexuality and gender law is intellectually both mature and sophisticated. Moreover, the themes and tensions that have emerged about and within the field increasingly dominate broad swaths of public law.
The authors represented in this issue were brought together to assess the current state and future prospects of the field of sexuality and gender law, in a symposium cosponsored by the UCLA Law Review and the Williams Institute. The resulting articles present a vivid snapshot taken at the beginning of the twenty-first century of a field that did not exist until a few decades earlier. They also provocatively sketch complexities that lie ahead. Read complete address – Nan D. Hunter
UCLA Law Review
hunter of justice