Course Description

Intersex: Biology & Gender

Intersex is defined as the presence of intermediate or atypical combinations of physical features that usually distinguish female from male, and conservative statistics estimate that it affects 1 in every 2,000 babies born in the United States (Intersex Society of North America, 2006). Despite the fact that many of the biological causes for intersex are well described, there remains a considerable lack of social awareness and understanding of intersexuality. This class is an introduction to both the developmental biology and the sociology of intersex in humans. Topics will include: chromosomal biology, sexual differentiation, embryology, endocrinology, and human anatomy, as well as the social issues related to intersex, such as gender identity, gender performativity, the role of gender in our society and societies around the world, relevant legal & ethical issues, and what the study of intersexuality can learn from historical movements such as feminism. The format of the class will be primarily discussion-based with lectures and student presentations, and it will also include in-class writing assignments, short films, and interactive activities, with an emphasis on student participation. Final grades will be determined primarily from attendance, participation, and a final research paper and class presentation on a topic of the student’s choice.

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