The Lady of Charleston?
A Case of Wrongful Gender Assignment?
Department of Biological Sciences
Kent State University at Stark
This case uses the real story of Dawn Langley Simmons, who may have been misidentified as male at birth, to illustrate the developmental basis of human sexual dimorphism and how gender misidentification may occur. Students also consider the emotional, legal, and societal implications of gender misassignment and reassignment. Designed for a junior-level human genetics course for allied health students, the case could be used in a number of other courses including physiology, endocrinology, developmental biology, general biology, and psychology.
- To understand the biological basis for sexual dimorphism in humans, including understanding the role of the SRY gene in determining the male developmental pathway.
- To discuss the events during embryogenesis that determine sex at the chromosomal, gonadal, and phenotypic levels.
- To become familiar with various genetic defects, which can lead to a lack of sexual concordance.
- To recognize syndromes that may involve gender misassignment.
KeywordsSexual dimorphism; gender; gender assignment; sex determination; SRY gene; embryogenesis; Dawn Langley Simmons; Gordon Langley Hall
Topical AreasLegal issues, Social issues
Educational LevelUndergraduate lower division, Undergraduate upper division
Type / MethodsDiscussion
Subject HeadingsGenetics / Heredity | Cell Biology | Physiology | Biology (General) | Psychology | Sociology | Developmental Biology |