Intersex: A lesson in biology, identity and culture

By Carol Clark | eScienceCommons | April 9, 2013

Story image

"It's fun helping people make connections and think of things in new ways," says neuroscientist Sara Freeman, who won a Crystal Apple teaching award for her class on intersexuality.

As a little girl growing up in Atlanta, Sara Freeman says she was a tomboy, preferring to play in the dirt than with dolls. “I dealt with the psychological issue of not behaving like a feminine ideal,” she recalls, “but I don’t think most people ever feel like a perfect version of their sexual assignment.”

She went on to major in biology at the University of Virginia, where she developed an interest in reproductive endocrinology. Freeman is now on the brink of receiving a PhD in neuroscience from Emory, focused on the evolution of behavior, especially in relation to hormones. Her thesis involves the oxytocin system and the social attachment of mammals, drawing from her work in the lab of behavioral neuroscientist Larry Young.

“I find it fascinating that a chemical like a hormone can have such a big influence on an organism’s social interactions,” says Freeman, who loves teaching as much as research.

Last fall, Freeman taught an undergraduate class that she developed called “Intersex: Biology and Gender.”

Full story in eScienceCommons »