The story of how a biologically driven understanding of gender and sexuality became central to US LGBTQ+ political and legal advocacy.
Across protests and courtrooms, LGBTQ+ advocates argue that sexual and gender identities are innate. Oppositely, conservatives incite panic over “groomers” and a contagious “gender ideology” that corrupts susceptible children. Yet, as this debate rages on, the history of what first compelled the hunt for homosexuality’s biological origin story may hold answers for the queer rights movement’s future.
Born This Way tells the story of how a biologically based understanding of gender and sexuality became central to LGBTQ+ advocacy. Starting in the 1950s, activists sought out mental health experts to combat the pathologizing of homosexuality. As Joanna Wuest shows, these relationships were forged in subsequent decades alongside two broader, concurrent developments: the rise of an interest-group model of rights advocacy and an explosion of biogenetic and bio-based psychological research. The result is essential reading to fully understand LGBTQ+ activism today and how clashes over science remain crucial to equal rights struggles.