Sam Elkin

Detachable Penis: A Queer Legal Saga

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In Detachable Penis: A Queer Legal Saga, Elkin relates his bumpy journey from lesbian to transgender lawyer in the aftermath of the 2017 marriage equality postal survey. 

As the inaugural lawyer of Victoria’s queer law service, Elkin is quickly immersed in thorny debates around trans inclusion in sport, children’s access to puberty blockers, birth certificate law reform and the Christian right’s demand for enhanced religious freedoms. Set against the backdrop of a growing moral panic about the ‘trans agenda’, Elkin reflects on the double-edged sword of visibility post the ‘transgender tipping point’. Elkin offers an honest, unflinching account of chest surgery, phalloplasty, the emotional impact of cross-sex hormones and the perils of airport body scanners. Undogmatic and refreshingly open-minded, Elkin explores his ambivalence about aspects of his own transition, masculinity and fears of lesbian erasure as he encounters a new world of gender-affirming psychologists, surgeons and speech pathologists. 

Through an examination of Elkin’s legal casework and law reform efforts, Detachable Penis: A Queer Legal Saga offers a kaleidoscopic view of LGBTIQA+ communities living on the margins. This politically sharp narrative offers a nuanced account of the lateral violence, poor mental health and activist burn out that besets the contemporary LGBTIQA+ rights movement. Part love letter and part cautionary tale, Detachable Penis: A Queer Legal Saga offers a darkly humorous glimpse into Elkin’s unique life in the law that will undoubtedly spark many prickly conversations.

Author: Sam Elkin

Paperback  Published 3 May 2024  200 pages

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