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The Transgender Exigency: Defining Sex & Gender in the 21st Century




CMS: Comparative Media Studies

Faculty Supervisor:

Edward Schiappa

Faculty email:


Apply by:

May 7 for direct funding, July 9 for credit/volunteer



Project Description

This three-part book project explores controversies over definitions of sex and gender in the context of what I call the transgender exigency. Part One describes the transgender exigency—the relatively sudden rise of challenges to dominant definitions of sex and gender brought on by increased visibility of transgender individuals and political controversy involving transgender civil rights. My argument is that we are now in what I have described previously as a “definitional rupture” that requires us to consider the process of defining itself. Part Two provides a rhetorical and argumentative analysis of specific definitional controversies involving transgender issues in various contexts, including competitive sports, marriage laws, bathroom bills, military service, and academic disciplines. Part Three puts forward specific policy recommendations with regard to the question of how to define sex and gender with particular attention to the transgender exigency. I am looking for students to assist in directed research informing the case studies in part 2. Contact me for a more detailed project description.


No specific prerequisites other than an interest in the topic. Students will need to work remotely and check in weekly with the project manager.