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Dire Straights

Transsexualism and Gendered Stereotypes


Frank Monteleone
Anthropology and Sociology
Houston Community College Southwest


This case study is a fictional account of a romantic interlude in which a secret concerning the gender history of one of the characters is revealed. The case is intended to offer students a greater understanding of gendered culture and to discuss diversity issues. Students are also introduced to the possible scientific basis for “transgenderedness” and ultimately transsexualism. The case was developed for a community college level introductory cultural anthropology class, but could also be used in introductory gender classes or in courses where diversity issues may arise, such as in some sociology classes.


  • Acquire greater knowledge of transgender/gay issues.
  • Understand the challenges facing those in the transgendered community.
  • Dispel some of the stereotypes associated with transsexualism.
  • Discuss definitions of feminism and the stance of the National Organization for Women concerning the transgendered.
  • Understand the psychological perspectives of these individuals and how transsexualism develops.
  • Be introduced to a possible biological mechanism for this behavior.
  • Be exposed to potential ethical issues surrounding this issue.
  • Be introduced to transsexual culture and gendered culture in general.


Transgender; transgenderism; transsexual; transsexuality; sex reassignment surgery; sex change; gender; femininity; feminism; masculinity; sexual stereotypes

Topical Areas

Ethics, Social issues, Social justice issues

Educational Level

Undergraduate lower division, Undergraduate upper division



Type / Methods




Subject Headings

Sociology  |   Psychology  |   Anthropology  |  

Date Posted


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Luciana Garrido, High School Teacher
Biology Department
Secondary School Number 21
Morón, Buenos Aires, Argentina
I’m a biology teacher in Argentina, South America. I was able to use this case by translating it into Spanish (our language here) and introducing some changes about hormones and personalizations for my students to feel the situation as closer to their lives. My intention was to work with high school students about sex determination, secondary effects of hormones, and social aspects of sex in young people. I think it’s a very interesting case and also a very interesting way to teach, using case studies. Thank you very much.