Gender and Sexuality

Whether looking at emerging debates surrounding sexual identities or the intersections of gender and militarization in places like Ciudad Juarez, our bloggers spotlight the ways in which gender and sexuality are implicated in a variety of social structures, struggles, and discourses.

Sarah Silverman’s “Sex Change” Joke and Cisgender Privilege

Due to our patriarchal society there is a large wage gap between men and women.  Sarah Silverman, writer and comedian, came up with a seemingly logical solution to this problem: get a sex change.  While obviously a well-meaning joke meant to draw attention to a serious issue, her proposed solution is riddled with

Defeating Shame: My Story of Trans-Attraction

As a man, I never thought I would have to come out about being attracted to women.  It is simultaneously funny and sad to me that I have to come out about being heterosexual.  I do not see anything different about my sexual orientation, but most people do.  About four years ago, I was an exchange student in Thailand, a country known for its large, open transgender population.  While most men seemed to treat trans-women as if they were people to avoid, I saw no difference between them and cisgender

Queer Glossary

Gender and sexuality are extremely complicated.  The terms are constantly changing as people think of better ways to describe certain identities.  I may update this glossary in the future as I am still learning queer vocabulary myself.  If I have defined anything incorrectly or if anything is unclear, please ask questions and make comments in the comment section below.


Bisexual – attracted to both men and women of the gender binary.  They do not have to be attracted to those two genders equally.

Case Studies of Feminicide

Inter-American Court of Human Rights: Cotton Fields Sentence

As part of the Clinic's work, and with the help of Dr. Martha Chew-Sanchez, we were privileged enough to be able to speak with a variety of people in, and around Juarez.

Feminicide in Ciudad Juarez

In our clinic, we have been focusing on feminicide in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico as a case study of the effects of globalization on human rights. In order to understand a complex situation such as the one on the ground in Juarez, it is crucial to be familiar with some background information. 

About Ciudad Juarez:

  • Cd. Juarez is located across the border from El Paso, Texas.
  • The city has a population of around 1.5 million people.
  • There are over 300 maquiladoras in Cd. Juarez. Maquiladoras are assembly plants or foreign factories mainly owned by U.S. based multinational corporations. These factories have policies of cheap labor, long hours and efficient mass production of goods, mostly which are exported to the U.S.
  • President Felipe Calderon states that 90% of the deaths in Cd. Juarez are related to drug organizations, however, there is no evidence to back this statement. In fact, most of the 25,000+ dead are ordinary citizens (Charles Bowden, "Who is Behind 25,000 Deaths?" ).

Bringing 'Violencia Machista' Into the Light

42 Earlier this week, on November 25, the world observed the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women.  Originally declared in 1999 by the UN General Assembly, the day serves as an annual reminder of the need to confront the endemic problem of gender violence across the world.  A fact sheet provided by UNIFEM makes the extent of the problem abundantly clear, from the local ("In Sao Paolo, Brazil, a woman is assaulted every 15 seconds") to the global (as many as 70 percent of women "experience physical or sexual violence from men in their lifetime - the majority from husbands, intimate partners or someone they know")  Despite the growing global awareness represented by the UN's efforts, there are vast differences, from one society to another, in terms of the extent to which gender violence is actually treated as a public issue.  There is no question that Spain is one place where critical public scrutiny of the issue has been desperately needed for a long time.  Happily, however, there is also evidence that sustained efforts by the government and civil society to educate the population are beginning to make a difference, thanks in part to the involvement of the news media in refusing to let the issue remain in the dark.

Florida takes a step towards allowing gays to adopt. Has the rest of the country taken a step back ?

With Proposition 8 being passed during the 2008 election, gay rights activists have been in an extreme uproar of disdain, annoyance, and hurt. Hidden behind larger stories of gay marriage, battles over whether or not gay applicants are allowed to adopt or foster children in the U.S. are being fought.

The Politics of Breastfeeding

Breastfeeding has been known to provide both the infant and the mother with amazing benefits.  A child retains immunities to certain illnesses for longer after birth, gains weight at an appropriate speed, and some studies have even shown that the IQ of breastfed individuals is higher than that of formula-reared babies.  For the mother, among many other benefits, breastfeeding burns calories (helping to shed post-partum pounds), saves money, and further develops the bond between mothers and their infants.  Also, according to an article outlining the benefits of breastfeeding on, breastfeeding can have societal benefits as well, as it cuts down on health care costs and the lack of product waste is good for the environment.

Gender-neutral Restrooms

Many college campuses are starting to build bathrooms in their student centers and residence halls that are labeled as ‘gender neutral’.  According to an article on, over 17 colleges and universities (as of August 2007) have included these types of bathrooms in their renovations on campus. 

Immigrant Women forced to have HPV Vaccinations

On July 1, 2008, U.S. Citizen and Immigration Services (USCIS) made it mandatory for women immigrating into the U.S. between the ages of 11 to 26 to be vaccinated for Rotavirus, Hepatitis A,  Meningococcal,  Human papillomavirus, and  Zoster. Health procedures such as these are certainly crucial to keeping the citizens of the United States safe from exposure to such viruses, but what is the purpose of such a procedure if we are not going to check both men and women? Both males and females could potentially have these viruses, and virtually have the same reasons for receiving the vaccination.