Janson Wu

Janson Wu

A.B., '00
Women's Studies and History of Science
J.D., '03
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When I graduated from Harvard College in 2000 with a joint concentration in Studies of Women, Gender, and Sexuality (called Women’s Studies back then) and History of Science, I actually hid my diploma from my mom so she wouldn’t see. I hadn’t actually told my parents that I had added WGS as a concentration. For one, I wasn’t out as gay to her yet, and so I worried my academic decisions would heighten her suspicions about my sexual orientation. Plus, having already decided not to pursue medical school, I didn’t want to give her one more reason to worry about my job prospects after graduation.

And to be honest, I was unclear about my career path as well too. While I knew I would be attending law school after graduation, I wasn’t sure what path there was to combine my deep commitment to feminism and queer justice with the law. Were they even compatible, or would I have to choose one over the other?

Sixteen years later, I am grateful for what I learned at WGS, as it has served as the foundation of my legal work. I am the Executive Director of GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders (GLAD), a legal nonprofit organization dedicated to ending discrimination against the LGBTQ and HIV positive communities. My work at GLAD for the last ten years has brought me from trial courts in Maine arguing on behalf of trans rights, to the U.S. Supreme Court last June, where I watched GLAD’s attorney Mary Bonauto argue and win the freedom to marry for same-sex couples across the country. Every day, I get to work towards changing the ways that gender and sexuality structure our laws in order to allow all of us to live authentic lives with dignity and respect.

And thankfully, my mom couldn’t be prouder of my career. Not only is she a supporter, she is a donor to GLAD and our groundbreaking legal work. WGS opened up my worldview, and in turn my mom’s, to the many ways that examining gender and sexuality in our world can enrich and support our lives and work.

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