Samira Seraji


Current medical constructions of trans identities reflect heterosexist understandings of gender expression—understandings that deny access to gender-affirming healthcare to those who fail to perform normative binary genders. As medical providers establish norms for how to “properly” be trans, the state codifies these norms, basing trans existence on rigidly defined and harshly enforced understandings of binary gender. When this construction of transness is codified on an institutional level, such as with gender reclassification rules for government identification, it forces trans people to conform their bodies to cisgender norms, and dangerously disrupts trans people’s bodily autonomy and diminishes their control over their reproductive choices.

This Article contends that the gender conformity that the state requires of trans people parallels the violence that the state has inflicted on low-income non-trans women of color. As welfare policies have sought to constrain indigent Black women’s reproductive and sexual autonomy, courts use legal gender determination to force trans people to conform to heterosexist sexual and family structures—a project that works to constrain their reproductive freedoms. This Article connects the decades-long struggle of non-trans women of color for reproductive justice with that of trans people’s right to self-identify without medical intervention. In doing so, this Article calls for legal trans advocates to coalition build with existing reproductive justice movements to nurture a trans jurisprudence that rejects heterosexist notions of trans identity and instead embraces the multiplicity of trans embodiment and queer family structures that we, as trans people, can create.