Alex Sharpe

Year of Call: 1988

Alex Sharpe is a social and legal theorist, legal historian and gender, sexuality and the law scholar and activist.

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Alex is also a Law Professor at Keele University (2004 - present). She also holds an Adjunct Chair at the Crime and Justice Research Centre, Queensland University of Technology (2014 -).

Alex has been writing about transgender / law issues for over twenty years and is the author of over 50 publications on the subject.

Trans Rights


Trans Activism and Law Reform

Alex regularly provides advice to government departments, members of parliament, law firms and public interest advocacy organisations both in the UK and overseas. She has made a series of written submissions to parliamentary inquiries held by the Ministry of Justice, the Women and Equalities Select Committee and the Public Bills Committee, and has been cited in parliamentary and amicus curiae intervention submissions, as well as judicially in Australia, Hong Kong, the United States and, most recently, by the European Court of Human Rights (Hämäläinen v Finland [2014] ECHR 877 (Joint Dissenting Opinion of Judges Sajo, Keller & Lemmens, para 13).

Recent Work: Challenging 'Gender Identity Fraud' Prosecutions

Alex recently completed a Leverhulme Trust funded Research Fellowship (1/10-16 - 1/10/17. £42,319). More information about this funded project can be found at her Keele University webpage. During the fellowship, Alex considered recent successful sexual offence prosecutions for 'gender identity fraud' brought against young trans and gender queer people (R v Gemma Barker[2012] Southwark Crown Court, unrep; R v Chris Wilson [2013] Edinburgh High Court, unrep; R v Justine McNally [2013] EWCA Crim 1051; R v Gayle Newland [2015] Chester Crown Court, unrep; R v Kyran Lee (Mason) [2015] Lincoln Crown Court, unrep; R v Jason Staines [2016] Bristol Crown Court, unrep; R v Gayle Newland [2017] Manchester Crown Court, unrep). The project considered: (i) the proper reach of the criminal law, (ii) the ethicality of sexual conduct/omission, and (iii) offered a queer reading of agency and desire.

Notable Cases


R v Gayle Newland [2017] Manchester Crown Court, unrep

R (on the application of C) v Secretary of State for Work and Pensions [2017] UKSC 72

R v Gayle Newland [2015] Chester Crown Court, unrep

R v Kyran Lee (Mason) [2015] Lincoln Crown Court, unrep

R v Justine McNally [2013] EWCA Crim 1051

Contact Alex


Key publications:

Sexual Intimacy and Gender Identity 'Fraud': Reframing the Legal & Ethical Debate (London: Routledge, 2018) pp. 204.

Foucault's Monsters and the Challenge of Law (London: Routledge, 2010) pp. 184.

Transgender Jurisprudence: Dysphoric Bodies of Law (London: Cavendish, 2002) pp. 230.

Publications on 'Gender Identity Fraud'

Refereed Journals

  1. 'The Ethicality of the Demand for (Trans)parency in Sexual Relations (2017) 43(2) Australian Feminist Law Journal 161-183.
  2. 'Queering Judgement: The Case of Gender Identity Fraud' (2017) 81(5) Journal of Criminal Law 417-435.
  3. 'Expanding Liability for Sexual Fraud Through the Concept of Active Deception': A Flawed Approach' (2016) 80(1) Journal of Criminal Law 28-44.
  4. 'Sexual Intimacy, Gender Variance and the Criminal Law' (2015) 33(4) Nordic Journal of Human Rights 380-391.
  5. 'Criminalising Sexual Intimacy: Transgender Defendants and the Legal Construction of Non-Consent' (2014) Criminal Law Review 207-223.
  6. 'Transgender Marriage and the Legal Obligation to Disclose Gender History' (2012) 75(1) Modern Law Review 33-53.
  7. 'The Dark Truth Behind Convictions for Gender Fraud' New Statesman (16 Dec 2015) This article considers the Kyran Lee conviction.
  8. 'There's More Than Meets the Eye in the Case of Gayle Newland' New Statesman (18 Sept 2015) This article considers the conviction and eight year sentence of Gayle Newland.
  9. 'We Must Not Uphold Gender Norms at the Expense of Human Dignity' New Statesman (1 May 2013) This article considers the Chris Wilson and Justine McNally cases.

Alex has also published elsewhere on this topic including a series of articles on the Inherently Human Blog and articles in The Conversation and Legal Voice.

Training and Seminars

Alex regularly presents keynote addresses, public lectures and appears at many other academic and public speaking events involving, but not confined to, transgender rights concerns. In recent years, she has been invited to speak in New York, Prague, Tel Aviv, Sydney, Brisbane, Melbourne, Lund, Oslo, Vienna, San Francisco, Zurich, Berlin, Rome, Paris as well as in the UK. She has a significant media profile and is widely consulted and interviewed by various media and publishes regularly in national newspapers and other media outlets.

Alex's academic work extends beyond trans issues and broader questions of gender and sexuality. In particular, she has examined, in theoretical and historical terms, the legal category Monster, a legal category that existed in English law from the mid-thirteenth till at least the late nineteenth century. In recent years, she has sought to bring this research to life for public consumption, through the sublime example of David Bowie. To this end, she has presented a series of public lectures on David Bowie as hopeful monster (Phoenix Arizona, Canberra, Brisbane, London, Manchester, Keele, Sheffield and Edinburgh) (2016-2018). Her Keele lecture is available on Youtube, and as well as being theoretically rich, is an audio-visual feast


  • LLB (Warwick), LLM (UWA), PhD (Keele)
  • Barrister and Solicitor of the Supreme Court of Western Australia (1990) and the High Court of Australia (1991)

Professional Membership

  • Alex sits on the International Legal Committee of WPATH (World Professional Association of Transgender Health), a law reform body which makes amicus curiae interventions in litigation worldwide, and Amnesty International's Expert Committee on the Criminalisation of Sexual and Reproductive Conduct.
  • She also sits on the advisory boards of the International Journal of Transgenderism; the International Journal of Gender, Sexuality and Law; the Journal of Crime, Justice and Social Democracy; and the Journal of Sexual Ethics.
  • She has held visiting professorships at the University of Sydney, Queensland University of Technology, Lund University, Sweden, and McGill University, Montreal.

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