line drawing of computers, tablets, and televisions.

Autistic Screen Time: Swipe Left on Stigma

By Maxfield Sparrow

I am an autistic person who has been using the internet as a social prosthetic device since 1983. I was born in 1967 and began therapy in 1972, so the iPad didn’t exist and the only screen time parents worried about was the five channels of broadcast television available twenty hours a day. TV was fine, but my real passion was books. I was hyperlexic and from a very early age I had an unquenchable thirst for written language. My obsession with reading was considered pathological, and adults took my books away to try to force me to socialize with other children instead.

It didn’t work. But it is sadly common that those of us with developmental disabilities are held to higher standards than everyone else. As children, once we are identified, everything about us is scrutinized. Well-meaning adults, fearing for our future, hold us to higher standards of everything from politeness to academic discipline to the age-appropriateness of our interests to the ways we move through the world. We’re not allowed to “get away with” the things non-disabled kids do every day.

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Puebla, Mexico - September 28, 2020: With green scarves, members of feminist collectives demonstrate in the streets of the Historic Center of Puebla to demand the legalization of abortion.

Sex Equality in #SeptiembreVerde: Examining the Mexican Supreme Court’s Abortion Decriminalization Decision

By Joelle Boxer

Earlier this month, Mexico’s Supreme Court issued a ruling decriminalizing abortion nationwide, setting a powerful example in the global trend of abortion law liberalization, including on the grounds of sex equality.

Hailed as “incredible” by reproductive justice advocates, the decision will be most impactful in the 20 Mexican states where local laws still criminalize abortion, potentially removing access barriers for more than 42 million women.

This article will explain the origins of the case, what the decision holds, and what it says about sex equality.

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Cover image of Ashley Shew's book, Against Technoableism.

Symposium Introduction: Addressing Technoableism: Reforming Infrastructure and Disability Representation

By Ashley Shew

Far too often, when people write and talk about technology and disability, stories are deeply shaped by ableism. Often when devices are painted as “solving the problem of disability” or “empowering disabled people,” they suggest that being disabled is itself a problem, and that people should try to be as nondisabled as possible. But pretending to be nondisabled is not a great way to live — to be in hiding or denial, to not give your body and mind the rest they deserve, to hurt yourself trying to live up to expectations and infrastructure sometimes literally designed to keep you out. Technology itself gets painted as heroic and important — and, please, investors, throw more money at the tech industry — when any disability is mentioned. Disability is often appealed to as a justification for technological development, and as a moral imperative toward investment in technological research. This is technoableism as I describe it in my book, Against Technoableism: Rethinking Who Needs Improvement

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a man waves an intersex-inclusive progress pride flag in the wind on the sky.

Certainty and Uncertainty in Trans-Intersex Science Politics

By Maayan Sudai

Joanna Wuest’s Born This Way: Science, Citizenship, and Inequality in the American LGBTQ+ Movement describes the evolution of the “born this way” framework through pivotal moments in the history of the LGBTQI+ movement.

A central theme of the book’s analysis is the role that “certainty” and “uncertainty” play in the legitimation of science-based policy regarding sexuality and gender issues. Uncertainty of what might happen has been pitted against LGBTQI+ reforms, from when conservative researchers and practitioners argued the exposure of young children to an openly gay guardian or schoolteacher could be harmful (p.92), to present-day attempts to leverage uncertainty to block trans access to sex-segregated bathrooms, prisons, and shelters (p.181).

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Medical Caduceus Symbol as Scales with backlight over Wall in dark room.

Gender-Affirming Care, Abortion, and the Politics of Science: A Response to Wuest’s ‘Born this Way’

By Aziza Ahmed

On August 21, 2023, the 11th Circuit issued a decision that allowed a ban on transgender care to go into effect in Alabama. The Alabama ban, formally called the Alabama Vulnerable Child Compassion and Protection Act, is one of the most extreme of the many bans on gender affirming care. The law defines sex as the “biological state of being female or male, based on sex organs, chromosomes and endogenous hormone profiles…genetically encoded into a person at the moment of conception…” and targets physicians who might undermine this notion of sex with criminal prosecution. Their punishment could be up to ten years in prison.

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View of runners crossing Verrazano Bridge at the start of NY City Marathon

What the New York City Marathon Can Teach Us About Equitable Access to Vaccines

By Ana Santos Rutschman

What can the New York City Marathon experience teach those reflecting on ways to increase equity in the transnational allocation of scarce vaccine doses?

Quite a lot, it turns out. I explore this analogy in a recently published article in the Journal of Law, Medicine and Ethics (JLME), Increasing Equity in the Transnational Allocation of Vaccines Against Emerging Pathogens: A Multi-Modal Approach.

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SACRAMENTO, CA, U.S.A. - OCTOBER 9, 2021: A mother and child march with Proud Mom and Trans Rights are Human Rights signs during the National Trans Visibility March.

Protecting Trans Children: Scientific Uncertainty and Legal Debates Over Child Custody and Access to Care

By Marie-Amélie George

A tweet turned Luna Younger’s personal struggle into a national controversy. Using 148 characters, Texas Governor Greg Abbott announced that the Texas Attorney General’s Office and the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services would be investigating the seven-year-old’s family. Prompting his declaration was a jury’s award of custody to Luna’s mother, Anne Georgulas, a pediatrician who supported Luna’s gender transition. A year before the case made its way into court, Luna had asked her parents to call her Luna, rather than her (traditionally male) legal name, to reflect her gender identity. That same year, a therapist diagnosed Luna with gender dysphoria, which is distress from the mismatch between a person’s assigned sex at birth and their gender identity. As a result, medical professionals recommended that Luna be referred to as “she” and be allowed to wear the feminine clothing and keep the long hair that she preferred. Luna’s father, Jeffrey Younger, registered his objection to Luna’s gender identity by shaving her head, even as he allowed Luna’s twin brother to maintain his locks. Georgulas petitioned for an order prohibiting her ex-husband from “engaging in non-affirming behavior and/or taking Luna outside the home as [her birth name], or allowing others to do so.” Jeffrey Younger counterclaimed for sole legal custody.

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Washington, DC, USA - December 1, 2021: Abortion rights rally at the Supreme Court, Jackson Women's Health v. Dobbs.

Biological Determinism, Scientific Uncertainty, and Reproductive Rights

By Mary Ziegler

As Joanna Wuest writes, the role played by science in the LGBTQ+ movement “is at once a celebratory and cautionary story.” Something similar could be said of struggles over reproductive rights in the half century since the Supreme Court decided Roe v. Wade.

Today, after decades of staying on the sidelines, physicians have once again been at the forefront of struggles over abortion, launching a ballot initiative in Ohio, bringing lawsuits, and speaking against state criminal bans. Physicians’ investment in the struggle — and the scientific arguments they bring to bear — seem like a possible turning point in future struggles over reproductive rights and justice. After all, medical professionals have both special expertise and political capital that could make a difference at a time when disapproval of abortion bans is already high.

But history suggests that arguments based on science have played a far messier role in struggles over reproductive rights. As often as scientific evidence has advanced reproductive rights, abortion foes have used claims about scientific uncertainty to justify new restrictions — and have harnessed claims of biological difference to assert that there is no connection between sex equality and abortion.

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Close up of surgery team operating.

Access to Uterus Transplantation and the Workplace

By Natasha Hammond-Browning

Uterus transplantation first hit the headlines in 2014, with the birth of the first baby born following a uterus transplant. This first birth in Sweden has led to trials worldwide. Most recently, in August 2023, the United Kingdom saw its first uterus transplant. In the United States, the University of Alabama (UAB) Medicine uterus transplant program is the first program to offer uterus transplantation outside of a clinical trial, and the first birth in that program was in May 2023.

While recent estimates of future uterus transplants are relatively small — for instance, Womb Transplant UK estimates that between 20-30 uterus transplants could be performed annually — the increasing number of uterus transplant recipients should not be ignored. In particular, questions of access and the workplace rights of those undergoing this surgery are important to consider. This post will briefly lay out some of the issues that may arise for potential recipients and their partners in the workplace.

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MONTREAL, CANADA -16 AUG 2015- The annual Fierte Montreal parade took place on August 16, 2015 on Boulevard Rene Levesque in Central Montreal. It is the largest Gay Pride in the Francophone world.

“Born This Way,” LGBTQ+ Rights, and the Politics of Uncertainty

By Joanna Wuest

“Medical uncertainty” is no straightforward matter when it comes to LGBTQ+ health and civil rights. Take for instance the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals 2020 decision striking down a pair of municipal ordinances in Florida that had banned so-called “conversion therapy” for minors (contemporary psychology’s preferred nomenclature is “sexual orientation and gender identity change efforts”). In an enormous blow to the evidence-based notion that such change efforts are harmful — they are indeed responsible for much trauma and death — two Trump-appointed judges declared that the science of sexual orientation and gender identity was much too uncertain to justify the bans. Gesturing to the American Psychiatric Association’s (APA) renowned 1973 removal of homosexuality from its list of disorders, the judges explained that “it is not uncommon for professional organizations to do an about-face in response to new evidence or new attitudes.” Ergo, because the APA had changed its mind once fifty years ago, it may just as easily reverse itself again. According to this view, we may one day wake up to find that mental health professionals have reclassified queerness as a malady to be cured rather than a sense of self to be embraced and protected by law.

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