The Sterilization and Social Justice Lab stands in solidarity and support of transgender and LGBTQI+ youth in Texas, in opposition to the Texas anti-transgender executive mandate. It has come to our attention that on February 18, 2022, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton grossly misrepresented an article by co-director and SSJL founder, Alexandra Minna Stern. Paxton’s letter in support of Governor Greg Abbott’s executive mandate inaccurately conflates gender-affirming care for minors with child abuse. In doing so, Paxton draws a false equivalence between forced sterilization and gender affirmation surgeries for minors.
Paxton’s legal opinion distorts both Stern’s article and the history of involuntary sterilization. In fact, we submit that Paxton and Abbott are not dissimilar to the eugenicists of the past who wanted to use the state to intrude on and harm the reproductive and sexual bodies of minoritized and vulnerable people. Rather than exposing this history, they are distorting, and to a great extent, reenacting it. Both eugenic sterilization and the denial of gender affirming medical care use similar paternalistic logic to justify the state’s interference with bodily autonomy. We reject their patriarchal definition of “protection” as anathema to true reproductive and sexual justice.
Our research consistently demonstrates the nefarious and often complicated role of the state during the era of 20th century eugenics and sterilization, when more than 60,000 were subjected to compulsory reproductive surgeries, thus forfeiting their ability to have a biological family. We currently study five states (California, Iowa, Michigan, North Carolina, and Utah) that maintained eugenic sterilization programs from the 1900s to the 1970s. In fact, we see parallels between the stigmatization of gender and sexual differences intrinsic to eugenic programs, the indelible harms caused by such programs, and the dehumanization of and attack on trans and LGBTQI+ youth currently happening in Texas.
Everyone deserves to feel safe and supported in their community. Below, we have included a few key resources in support of the transgender and non-binary community:
We join the world in mourning the lives of Daoyou Feng, Hyun Jung Grant, Suncha Kim, Paul Andre Michels, Soon Chung Park, Xiaojie Tan, Delaina Ashley Yaun, and Yong Ae Yue, who were murdered on March 16 by a violent gunman in a racially-motivated attack in Atlanta. We hope for a speedy recovery for Elcias Hernandez-Ortiz, who was injured during this act of terror. We condemn xenophobia, racism, harassment, and violence against Asians, Asian Americans, Pacific Islanders, and other marginalized groups.
While an individual perpetrated this violent act, we recognize how discrimination and racism pervades medical and scientific institutions, whether through ideologies of “race betterment” and eugenics or pernicious and racialized concepts of health, normalcy, sexuality, and perfection. These ideologies are rooted in a long history of institutionalized violence and discrimination against Asians, Asian Americans, and Pacific Islanders in the U.S., dating back to policies such as the Page Act of 1875, which hypersexualized Chinese women and barred their entry into the country. As researchers, our work documents the role that racism and unfettered violence has played in justifying the diminishment of the reproductive autonomy of communities of color, immigrants, disabled persons, and LGBT+ individuals.
The reproductive justice movement is a response to violence, racism, and state control of bodily autonomy. It demands not only the right to have or not have children but also the human right to exist in safe environments regardless of race, ethnicity, class, gender, ability, and sexuality. Through our scholarship, we envision a world that adheres to the principles of reproductive justice. Attaining reproductive justice requires us to stand in solidarity against xenophobia, racism, classism, and anti-Asian violence. The racialized misogyny apparent in the Atlanta shooting is a direct result of systemic racism, white supremacy, and oversexualization and racial stereotyping of Asian, Asian American, and Pacific Islander women in particular.
In solidarity, we redouble our commitments to:
The following resources provide further information, education, and aid:
We join the world in mourning the recent deaths of Breanna Taylor, George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, and Tony McDade and we remember with heavy hearts all the Black lives lost before them. We stand in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement and against systemic racism and police brutality.
We understand reproductive justice in the context of state violence. Reproductive justice demands not only the right to have or not have children but also the human right to maintain personal bodily autonomy and the right to exist in safe environments. Through our scholarship, we envision a world that adheres to the principles of reproductive justice. Attaining reproductive justice requires Black liberation inclusive of freedom from policing, incarceration, and all other forms of state violence.
We recognize how discrimination and racism pervades medical and scientific institutions, whether through ideologies of “race betterment” and eugenics or pernicious concepts of health, normalcy, and perfection. As researchers, our work documents the role that criminalization and policing has played in justifying the diminishment of the reproductive autonomy of Black people, communities of color, disabled persons, and LGBT+ individuals.
In solidarity, we join the global movement for Black lives and commit to the following:
The following resources provide further information, education, and aid.