Controlling Bodies, Regulating Sexualities
A partial timeline of gendered & racialized politics


About the

Legal systems are a way to establish administrative norms and create structured inequality across populations. This timeline documents legal efforts to control bodies and regulate sexualities in the U.S.

Timelines are partial, and this one is no exception. The laws and policies documented here represent just a few of many attempts to exert legal power. While documenting moments people have sought equal protection under the law—some successful and some unsuccesful, the “Regulating Sexualities” timeline is not meant to underscore the usefulness of the anti-discrimination and hate crime laws. The “legal wins” documented in the timeline do not necessarily signal broader social and cultural acceptance for different people, nor do they prevent on-the-ground violence, including criminalization, discrimination, or immigration enforcement.

Indeed, the law is a place where racist, sexist, homophobic, transphobic, and ableist outcomes, among others, are created and endorsed. Rather than an endorsement of the law as a means to justice, we invite you to interact with the histories presented in the timeline as a way to recognize the gendered, racialized, and heteronormative politics of the law.


Collaboratively created by the
‘Sexuality, Technoscience, and the Law’ class (2021) at Northwestern University 

Renee Shelby, PhD
Clay Davis, TA
Maria Aliaga
Naomi Banuelos-Lozano
Xanthe Brown
Anna Craver
Anthony Gaines
Liam Gately
Clarissa Hand
Aishwarya Jois
Rebecca Lofton
Emma Mcgorray
Shreya Mukherjee
Matthew Osei-Owusu
Benjamin Powell
Caroline Pozo
Daniel Rodriguez
Bundev Sawhney
Sanchita Sen
Skyler Shellmyer
Stephanie Shin
Mychael Torres
Sheyda Tribble
Bryce Wilcoxson

Laws & Policies


Racial Integrity Act of 1924
Pace v. Alabama
Loving v. Virginia

Gender Discrimination

Title VII of Civil Rights Act
Title IX of the Education Amendments
U.S. v. Virginia Military Institute


The 1907 Indiana Eugenics Law
Buck v. Bell
Skinner v. Oklahoma


Sexual Violence

Laws of Virginia, Act XII
Missouri v. Celia, a Slave
Mississippi v. Bryant & Milam
California AB701 & AB2888


Roth v. U.S.
One, Inc. v. Oleson
Jacobelis v. Ohio
Miller v. California
Oregon v. Henry
Stanley v. Georgia

Decriminalizing Sex

Bowers v. Harwick
Lawrence v. Texas
Kansas v. Limon
Maryland HB81
Romer v. Evans
Rhoades v. Iowa

Marriage and Family

In re Guardianship of Kowalski
Obergefell v. Hodges
AMPA v. McDonald
Bourke v. Beshear
U.S. v. Windsor
Roe v. Patton
Defense of Marriage Act
Strickland v. Day
Ely v. Saul
Varnum v. Brien


Removal of Homosexuality from DSM
Benitez v. North Coast Women’s Care
Rose v. Cahee
FDA Recommendations on Blood Donations
Repeal of 1987 HIV Travel Ban
Therapeutic Fraud Prevention Act
Prohibition of Medicaid Funding for Conversion Therapy Act

Reproductive Rights

Griswold v. Connecticut
U.S. v. Vuitch
Eisenstadt v. Baird
Bigelow v. Virginia
Planned Parenthood v. Casey
Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt
Bellotti v. Baird
The Reproductive Health Act of Illinois
Burwell v. Hobby Lobby
Carey v. Population Services International

Citizenship & Asylum

Morrison v. White
Soto Vega v. Gonzales
In the Matter of Alcota
Lanier v. Harvard
In the Matter of Toboso-Alfonso
Castro-Martinez v. Holder
Boutilier v. INS


Bradwell v. Illinois
Dunbar v. Foot Locker
Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell
Hively v. Ivy Tech
Johnson v. Transportation Agency
Jackson v. Birmingham
Burlington Northern & Santa Fe Railway v. White
Hickman v. Donna Curry Investments
Price Waterhouse v. Hopkins
Gaylord v. Tacoma

Trans* Rights

Cisek v. Cisek
Bostock v. Clayton County
New York ABA3355
The Equality Act
Smith v. Avanti
Hispanic AIDS Forum v. Estate of Bruno
Mississippi Senate Bill 2536
McCreery v. Don’s Valley Market
Arroyo v. Rossello
Foster v. Anderson
The North Carolina Bathroom Bill