The Rutgers University Department of Women’s and Gender Studies is offering a new course this fall that aims to give students an in depth look at what it means to be transgender.
“Introduction to Transgender Studies” is the first course offered at the University that solely discusses transgender topics, which relate to people whose assigned sex does not correspond with their gender identity. Course instructor Aren Aizura aims to increase awareness and challenge the norm that everyone has a biological gender identity.
Instead of only focusing on the archetypes of “male” and “female,” transgender studies brings a different perspective on the issue of gender, said Aizura, a postdoctoral associate in the Department of Women’s and Gender Studies.
Aizura hopes the class, which includes as a mix of lectures, film screenings and small group work, will complicate the idea that everyone must adhere to the gender assigned at birth.
“I want to challenge the idea that transgender is this thing that is abnormal and freaky,” he said. “If you actually look closely at society and culture you realize there are people who are having cross-gender desires everywhere.”
Jenny Kurtz, director of the Center for Social Justice and LGBT Communities, said transgender courses must be included in the University’s course offerings, so students can obtain a broader understanding of gender studies.
“There has been so much enthusiasm, and there is such a need for it, so I hope courses like this continue to happen at Rutgers,” Kurtz said. “There is a real hunger for the topic and information.”
Catherine Lugg, a professor in the Department of Educational Theory, Policy and Administration, said the goal of the class is about expanding concepts of the mind.
“The class explores specific aspects of what it means to be human,” Lugg said.