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: