Did the eugenics movement make sterilization trendy?

A century ago, the eugenics movement in the United States was strong. So strong, in fact, that it was largely the American eugenics movement that inspired the Nazis in the 1930’s.

But after the atrocities of concentration camps came to light, the eugenics movement largely died out, or at least, it seemed to. In reality, I think it just went underground and its proponents came up with more subtle ways of engineering humanity’s genetics.

Half a century ago, being gay meant you would either be thrown in jail or forced to take estrogen pills that sterilized you. That’s what the British government did to Alan Turing, the man who cracked the German Enigma machine during WWII and pioneered computer science. He later committed suicide because of the chemical castration he was forced to undertake.

These days, at least in the Western world, these measures are seen as barbaric, and rightly so. But chemical castration never really disappeared. It just became trendy.

Male to female trans people today use chemical castration when they voluntarily take the same kind of estrogen hormones that used to be forcibly administered to gay people just a few decades ago, effectively sterilizing themselves. I talked to one such trans person who later had regrets that they would never be able to have children – by no means is this chemical castration always a win for the trans person, but it’s always a win for the eugenics movement.

And this isn’t viewed as some kind of horrible predicament, but instead seen as brave, assertive of your real gender, etc. Regardless of what your opinions of trans people are, you have to admit the irony that people today are willing to do to themselves what was forced on them just a few decades ago.

1 thought on “Did the eugenics movement make sterilization trendy?”

  1. What did eugenics reject? The idea that humans are a product of their environment (nurture) and totally dependent on hereditary traits (nature).Who supported the movement of eugenics ? Margaret Sanger, H. G. Wells, Theodore RooseveltWhen was forced sterilization made illegal in the US?

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