For me, freedom as it relates to gender and sexuality is bodily autonomy: having the faculty to independently govern one’s bodily and sexual choices. Bodily autonomy, is a human rights issue pertinent to sexuality and gender, particularly in relation to personal rights and medical treatment (or denial).
Recent issues that threaten bodily autonomy, and therefore personal freedom, include abortion, compulsory sterilization, medical insurance for gender surgery, etc. In these cases, denying someone’s right to choose abortion/sterilization (or not) and denying insurance coverage for gender surgeries, autonomy is threatened by law or policy that would prevent someone from having control over their own body.
Bodily autonomy can also be denied socially rather than legally. Take for example this discussion of reactions to Angelina Jolie’s double mastectomy and Demetri Marchessini’s book about women wearing pants.
Denial of bodily autonomy could be innocuous-seeming as my dad’s passive aggressive comments about my “manly” hair, or as threatening as the denial of insurance coverage for gender transition. While we are used to thinking about freedom in terms of older examples of slavery or women’s legal status as property, we need to realize that these denials of bodily autonomy are the threats to freedom today.