In June 2022, what we feared would happen did in fact materialize: the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade. Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies immediately began to organize, forming a coalition with groups on campus to put on a series of events in fall 2022, under the rubric “Our Bodies, Their Laws.” The series drew hundreds of participants, educating and galvanizing students, faculty, staff, and community members.
The four-part series emphasized that the Dobbs v. Jackson decision was only the latest instantiation of government policy that controls and criminalizes bodies, especially those of marginalized communities. Reproductive coercion has formed the bedrock of United States population policy, from early colonization and slavery to sterilization abuses against Black and Brown women, to the recent separation of families at the U.S.-Mexico border and forced hysterectomies in immigration detention centers. Proliferating efforts to ban gender affirming care and inclusive learning environments for trans and queer youth weave together a broader patchwork of policies showcasing the state’s disregard for the humanity of gendered and racialized “others.”
We kicked off the series in late August with a teach-in on reproductive justice, outside on the Arts Quad, that featured tabling from our members and allies—the Women’s Resource Center, Planned Parenthood, Cornell Women’s Health, and End Abortion Stigma. Then, in September, the Cornell Law School’s Gender Justice Clinic, led by Professor Elizabeth Brundige and three of her law students, presented a workshop, “Reproductive Justice After the Fall of Roe,” detailing the intricacies of the decision and future implications.
In October, we focused our panel discussion on “The Impacts of Dobbs v. Jackson on LGBTQ+ Communities”; Sara Warner, LGBT Studies director and associate professor; Cortney Johnson, director of the LGBT Resource Center and associate dean of students; and Stacy Roy ’25, sex education organizer, led this conversation. Finally, in November, students in the Feminist Theory class came together with student activists to strategize about “coalition building for bodily autonomy.” More than 100 participants at this event also discussed how to confront the use of date-rape drugs and the incidence of sexual assault on campus.
While reproductive justice was our focus in the fall, we have continued with our programming and research into other social justice issues, including refugees, immigration, and detention. The FGSS-sponsored student group, the Cornell Anti-Detention Alliance (CADA), entered its fourth year advocating for immigrants detained at the Buffalo Federal Detention Center. FGSS Director Jane Juffer’s book on this subject, Letters from Inside a U.S. Detention Center: Carla’s Story, will be published in April. Professor Saida Hodzic is organizing a conference, “Displaced, Detained, Undeterred,” for April that will feature scholars, activists, and artists.
All of this activity has clearly contributed to a steady growth in our numbers of majors and minors as well as graduate students. We now have 60 graduate minors and 50 undergraduate majors and minors—record numbers for all of those categories.
We do all of this on a small budget. Your contribution, no matter the amount, helps our program do the following:
- Sponsor guest speakers
- Purchase graduation stoles for our majors and minors
- Assist students in need of support
- Host luncheons for faculty sharing their work
- Pay a competitive wage to our student interns
Support FGSS on March 16.