Upcoming Events

The Future of the Right to Privacy
Thursday, September 29
12:15pm – 1:15pm 
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Interested in learning more about Dobbs and the future of the right to privacy? Join us for this discussion on Dobbs' implications for ObergefellGriswold and Lawrence on Thursday, September 29 at 12:15 pm, featuring CLS Professor Katherine Franke and ACLU Attorney Rebecca Chan. 

This event is hosted by the American Constitution Society and co-sponsored by the Center for Gender and Sexuality Law.

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Book Talk with John Wood Sweet, "The Sewing Girl's Tale" 
Thursday, October 6, 2022
5:00 PM - 6:30 PM
International Affairs Building, 420 W. 118 St
Lehman Suite, IAB Room 406


Join the Lehman Center for American History, the Columbia Research Initiative on the Global History of Sexualities, the Institute for the Study of Sexuality and Gender, and the Center for Gender and Sexuality Law for a conversation with historian and author John Wood Sweet on his new book, The Sewing Girl's Tale: A Story of Crime and Consequences in Revolutionary America (Henry Holt & Co., 2022).

On a moonless night in the summer of 1793 a crime in the back room of a New York brothel transformed Lanah Sawyer’s life. It was the kind of crime that even victims usually kept secret. Instead, the seventeen-year-old seamstress did what virtually no one else dared to do: she charged a gentleman with rape. The trial rocked the city and nearly cost Lanah her life. And that was just the start.

Based on extraordinary historical detective work, Lanah Sawyer’s story takes us from a chance encounter in the street into the squalor of the city’s sexual underworld, the sanctuaries of the elite, and the despair of its debtors’ prison—a world where reality was always threatened by hope and deceit. It reveals how much has changed over the past two centuries—and how much has not.

John Wood Sweet is a professor of history at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and former director of UNC’s Program in Sexuality Studies. He graduated from Amherst College (summa cum laude) and earned his Ph.D. in History at Princeton University. His first book, Bodies Politic: Negotiating Race in the American North, was a finalist for the Frederick Douglass Prize. He has served as a Distinguished Lecturer for the Organization of American Historians, and his work has been supported by fellowships from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Mellon Foundation, the National Humanities Center, the Institute for Arts and Humanities at UNC, the Gilder Lehrman Center at Yale, the McNeil Center at Penn, and the Center for Global Studies in Culture, Power, and History at Johns Hopkins. He lives in Chapel Hill with his husband, son, and daughter.

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Event Recordings

Panel Discussion: "Sex Is As Sex Does" with Paisley Currah
Wednesday, September 21

Every government agency in the United States, from Homeland Security to Departments of Motor Vehicles, has the authority to make its own rules for sex classification. Many transgender people find themselves in the bizarre situation of having different sex classifications on different documents. Whether you can change your legal sex to “F” or “M” (or more recently “X”) depends on what state you live in, what jurisdiction you were born in, and what government agency you’re dealing with. In this panel discussion centered on noted transgender advocate and scholar Paisley Currah's new book, Sex Is as Sex Does, Currah was joined by Professor Katherine Franke and Che Gossett to explore this deeply flawed system, and discuss why it fails transgender and non-binary people.


  • Professor Kendall Thomas, Studio for Law and Culture


  • Professor Katherine Franke, Director, Center for Gender & Sexuality Law
  • Che Gossett, Racial Justice Fellow, Initiative for a Just Society
Watch the Recording
Meanings and Effects of Dobbs: Originalism, Criminalization and Health Justice
Georgetown University
September 16, 2022

Professor Franke argues in her talk that "Dred Scott did for white supremacy -- defining the U.S. as a white nation -- what Dobbs does for patriarchy, masculinizing the constitution as a compact among men." Both cases are about reproductive justice in the shadow of slavery.
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The Futures of Dobbs: Opportunities, Activism and Creative Rage
Georgetown University
September 16, 2022

Elizabeth Reiner Platt, the director of our Law, Rights, and Religion Project, spoke about the long and rich history of religious participation in the reproductive health, rights, and justice movements.
Watch the Recording
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