4: Queering the Reasonable Person

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This chapter argues that the reasonable person – as a legal standard – is essentially a queer standard. Yet, it is the very queer character of the reasonable person that places LGBTQ+ individuals at risk. First, past (and current) applications and personifications of the reasonable person into a White middle class, cisgender, heteronormative individual raises others’ standard of care while limiting the ability to hold ‘reasonable men’ liable. Second, the move from reasonable man to reasonable person, even if it signals a commitment to inclusivity, does not mean that this objective standard now has a fixed meaning. One of its core features is its ability to take on a wide range of meanings, thus creating constant uncertainty and flux as there is a risk that at any given moment the reasonable person will turn back into the reasonable man. The chapter concludes by examining several possible resolutions to the challenge posed by the reasonable man: changing his personification to a more inclusive one; eliminating the personification altogether; or diversifying the judicial composition, arguing that emphasis should be placed on the latter.

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