Nursing History Forum on November 14, 2023


Jess Dillard-Wright, PhD, MA, RN, CNM

November 14, 2023
 12 p.m. (ET)


Hosted by the UVA Bjoring Center for Nursing Historical Inquiry
Zoom link:


Now, more than ever, American nursing must embrace its queer history. The stakes are high in a political environment that demands nurse compliance with legislation that infringes on the rights and well being of members of the LGBTQ+ community.  I will lay out a theoretical justification for queering nursing's history and go on to consider the ways in which cisheteronormativity was enforced in nursing in the second part of the 20th century, beginning with health care as a site for the production of queer pathology, moving into considerations of how sexuality was weaponized to discipline nurses in higher education and beyond. Two organizations imagined something different: the Gay Nurses Alliance, formed in 1972, and CASSANDRA Radical Feminist Nurses Network, a lesbian separatist collective that formed in 1982. Both groups organized in response to perceived failures of nursing's premier professional organization, the American Nurses Association, to substantively engage ideas of gay liberation and feminist action. 

Jess Dillard-Wright (she/they) is a recent recipient of the Barbara Brodie Nursing History Fellowship from the Bjoring Center. She/they lives, works, and plays in Western Massachusetts. She/they are white, fat, genderqueer, queer, assistant professor at University of Massachusetts Amherst Elaine Marieb College of Nursing. Jess's research is situated at the intersection where nursing, history, philosophy, and activism meet. Jess is particularly interested in the conflicts and confluences of professionalized nursing and social movements of the 20th and 21st century. She /they work in collaboration with folks across the country and around the world to first imagine and then build worlds that are just, equitable, sustainable. Examples of this work include Nursing Mutual Aid, Call to Action for Health+Liberation alternate nurses week actions, and an ongoing community with the Compost Collaborative. More about Jess’s visions for a collective future can be found in Nursing a Radical Imagination: Moving from Theory and History to Action and Alternate Futures, an anthology she/they co-edited published by Routledge.

We hope you will join us!

Maura Singleton
Center Manager
Eleanor Crowder Bjoring Center for Nursing Historical Inquiry

[email protected]
P 434.924.0083; 434.989.1550 (cell)

UVA School of Nursing
202 Jeanette Lancaster Way
P.O. Box 800782
Charlottesville, VA 22908-0782