Joanna Wuest is an Assistant Professor of Politics at Mount Holyoke College and sociolegal scholar specializing in LGBTQ+ and reproductive rights, religion, and health. Currently, she is a Public Fellow in LGBTQ Rights at the Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI). Previously, she was the Fund for Reunion-Cotsen Postdoctoral Fellow in LGBT Studies in the Princeton University Society of Fellows in the Liberal Arts. She received her Ph.D. in Political Science with a certificate in Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies from the University of Pennsylvania in 2019.
Her first book, Born This Way: Science, Citizenship, and Inequality in the American LGBTQ+ Movement (Fall 2023 with the University of Chicago Press) tells the history of the LGBTQ+ rights movement, the modern scientific study of gender and sexuality, and the identity politics that formed at the nexus. It reveals how the scientific and medical professions bolstered the fight for civil rights and how conservatives have fought back against equality and science alike. Listen here to a Radiolab episode on the book's major themes.
Wuest's research has been funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Social Science Research Council, the American Association of University Women, and the American Political Science Association (APSA), and has been the recipient of the Kenneth Sherrill Award for the Best Dissertation on Sexuality and Politics among other APSA paper awards.
Her academic work has appeared or is forthcoming in Perspectives on Politics, Polity, Politics & Gender, Law & Social Inquiry, the Journal of Law, Medicine & Ethics, GLQ: A Journal of Lesbian and Gay Studies, nonsite, the Behavior Therapist, Psychology of Sexual Orientation and Gender Diversity, and various edited volumes. Her public writing has been published by the Nation, Boston Review, the Philadelphia Inquirer, Dissent, Psyche, the Los Angeles Review of Books' Philosophical Salon, Zeitschrift Luxemburg, and Jacobin.
Her ongoing book project is titled Church Against State: How Industry Groups Lead the Religious Liberty Assault on Civil Rights, Health, and Social Welfare. The book details how Koch Industries, the Bradley Foundation, and other wealthy donors exploit weaknesses in the public-private welfare state to undermine civil rights, the administrative state, and social welfare more generally. It exposes how groups including the Alliance Defending Freedom and the Becket Fund use religious child welfare providers, schools, hospitals, and even corporations themselves to advance a broad deregulatory agenda. A forthcoming journal article on the book's major themes can be found here.