Kyla Bender-Baird is a visiting assistant professor of legal studies and sociology. Her research examines the ways in which law produces identities and shapes institutional experiences. Bender-Baird’s projects seek to bring the perspectives of trans people to inform broader understanding of workplace inequality and legal consciousness. In doing so, her research provides new insights into how people in the U.S. think of law, legitimacy and social change. 

Areas of Expertise

Law & Society, Trans Studies, Sociology of Gender and Sexuality


2021 — Doctor of Philosophy from City Univ of New York

2008 — Master of Science from Towson University

2006 — Bachelor of Arts from Principia College

Courses Recently Taught

This course examines the law, legal profession and legal institutions from a variety of traditional social-science perspectives. The primary frame of reference will be sociological and social psychological. The objective of the course is to expose students to a variety of interdisciplinary perspectives on law and to encourage the examination of law-related phenomena through the literature of multiple disciplines. Topics to be covered include law as a social institution; law as a social-control mechanism; a history of law in the United States; the U.S. criminal justice system; philosophies of law; law and psychology; comparative legal cultures; and law and social change. This survey course is intended to encourage and facilitate a critical study of law in society and serve as a foundation from which to pursue the study of law and legal issues in other curricular offerings. This interdisciplinary course does not count toward the completion of any diversification requirement. This is required for the law and society concentration. Prerequisite: sophomore standing. Offered every fall.

This course has been designed as a discussion course with a series of mini-research assignments. The course focuses on the role and contributions of sociology and the social sciences to the conceptualization of law and legal policymaking. Course materials will draw upon research performed primarily within the context of the American civil and criminal justice system. We also will examine some prevalent notions about what law is or should be, legal behavior and practices, and justifications for resorting to law to solve social problems. Through the use of mini-research assignments, students will gain an appreciation for the complexity and far-reaching impact that the social sciences have upon social policymaking and legal policymaking as well as the difficulty of determining or measuring law and its impact. This course is highly recommended for students participating in the John W. Adams Summer Scholars Program in Socio-legal Studies. This counts toward the methods requirement for the sociology major as equivalent to SOCY 271. This interdisciplinary course does not count toward the completion of any diversification requirement. Prerequisite: sophomore standing. Offered every other year.

This is an upper-level seminar that offers students in the concentration an opportunity to integrate the various topics and approaches to which they were exposed in the law-related courses they have taken. Each year, the senior seminar will be designed around a specific substantive theme or topic; the themes as well as the format and approach to the course will change from year to year, depending upon the faculty members teaching the course and their interests. This interdisciplinary course does not count toward the completion of any diversification requirement. Prerequisite: permission of instructor. Offered spring semester every year.

Our common sense tells us that certain acts are "wrong"; that particular persons who engage in them are "deviant." But common sense suggests little about how and why a particular act or actor comes to be understood in this way. The objective of this course is to explore the significance of deviance and crime within social life. We carry the distinction between being different, being deviant and being criminal throughout the semester. This course provides a substantial introduction to criminology, with consideration of the social characteristics of offenders and victims, crime rates and various justifications of punishment. This course should be of interest to students within many majors who are concerned with theoretical, practical and ethical questions concerning the concepts of good and evil as foundations of human society. This counts toward the institutions and change or culture and identity requirement for the major. Prerequisite: 100-level sociology course or permission of instructor. Offered every other year.