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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:

September 20, 2020



Project Description

The project is a book that describes a series of definitional controversies over how to define woman/man, male/female, in contexts that are typically segregated by sex, including single-sex schools, bathrooms, the military, competitive athletics, and prisons. It also explores how the category of "intersex" complicates traditional sex segregation. The goal of the project is to advance an ethical framework for thinking about such definitions that is sensitive to such questions as Who should have the power to define? What values/interests are advanced by competing definitions. The project is far enough along now that most basic research is complete, but students could participate in one of two ways. The first is to amplify the transgender/gender nonconformist voice in the project by reading relevant autobiographies and/or engaging in ethnographic research. The second is to do "spot" research, including bibliographic work, on an "as needed" basis. Contact Professor Schiappa for details.


Some experience with gender studies is helpful, though not required.