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Dara Purvis

Professor of Law, Pennsylvania State University

About Dara

Purvis' research focuses on transgender children's rights and family law. Purvis uses masculinities theory to uncover and explain how the law strengthens gender stereotypes, then proposes changes to the law to make it more equal for people of all genders. Purvis' most recent research focuses on the constitutional speech rights of transgender students, disputes over frozen embryos, the constitutional parental rights of fathers, and abortion.


No Jargon Podcast

In the News

Quoted by Tom Lehmen in "Advocates, Opponents to Abortion Access in PA Say Legal Fight Over Mifepristone Far From Finished," WGAL News 8 Pennsylvania, April 21, 2023.
Quoted by Mick Stinelli in "Legal Experts: Overturning Roe Could Damage Court’s Legitimacy," Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, June 26, 2022.
Opinion: "All the Ways Alito’s Opinion Might Criminalize Pregnancy," Dara Purvis, Slate, May 4, 2022.
Opinion: "When Judges Prey on Clerks," Dara Purvis, The New York Times, December 12, 2017.


"Transgender Students and the First Amendment" Penn State Law Research Paper, no. 2 (2023).

Outlines constitutional free speech claims that could be brought by transgender students against schools that try to limit expression of their gender identity.

"Frozen Embryos, Male Consent, and Masculinities" Indiana Law Journal 97, no. 2 (2021).

Uses the frame of masculinities theories to explore inconsistencies in the courts' treatment of unwanted fatherhood. Argues that disputes between former partners about stored frozen embryos demonstrate that courts reject a legal personhood theory of fetuses and that courts dismiss men's emotions around fatherhood when assessing parenting rights.

"Police Sexual Violence: Police Brutality, #MeToo, and Masculinities" Penn State Law Research Paper, no. 3 (2019).

Identifies the serious problem of police sexual violence committed against members of the public, explains it as a cultural product of toxic masculinity, and proposes legal and social reforms to end police sexual violence.

"Trump, Gender Rebels, and Masculinities" Wake Forest Law Review 54, no. 423 (2019).

Argues that the seemingly conservative ban of transgender service members and seemingly progressive support for family leave under President Trump can both be explained as supporting the gender stereotypes of hegemonic masculinity.