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ASU’s Origins Project explores sex, gender and reproductive rights issues

August 26, 2016

Today’s gender issues can take many forms. In some countries, girls are given limited opportunity or are “discouraged” from going to school to better themselves. In other countries they are encouraged to go to school and better themselves, but when in the workforce they face a lifetime of unequal pay compared with male counterparts.

In the U.S., transgender issues ranging from North Carolina’s recent “Bathroom Bill” to the Pentagon’s decision to allow transgender troops dominate the news. Many states are attempting to dismantle Roe v. Wade, and the recent tragedy against the LGBTQ community in Orlando demonstrates that emotions still run high and consensus about basic aspects of human biology remain elusive.

Arizona State University’s Origins Project will explore these topics in a Great Debate titled “Political Bodies: Sex, Gender and Reproductive Rights” at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 7, at the Orpheum Theatre in Phoenix.

During this Great Debate, panelists will examine these issues in the context of the scientific origins of sex and gender, and the sometimes paradoxical and often emotional character of the social, cultural and political ways we live and express it.

“We are living at a time when our understanding of the origin of gender and its genetic basis is quickly evolving,” said Lawrence Krauss, director of the Origins Project at ASU. “At the same time, issues of gender, sex and reproduction play a key role in broad social, legal and political debate in this country and around the world. We felt that an honest and open discussion of these issues and the potential disconnects between science, public awareness and policy by individuals who have thought deeply about them would be both useful and interesting for the public, which we hope is one of the hallmarks of all of our Origins events.”

Panelists for “Political Bodies” include:

  • Anne Fausto-Sterling, the Nancy Duke Lewis Professor of Biology and Gender Studies at Brown University, who has focused her research on applying dynamic systems theory to the study of sex and gender in early childhood development.
  • Kaiponanea Matsumura, associate professor of law at ASU’s Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law, whose research examines the intersection of private ordering and intimacy. His recent work has studied the limitations that courts have placed on the ability of parties to order their personal affairs and how those limitations should affect contracting practices more broadly.
  • Gloria Feldt, co-founder and president of Take the Lead and former CEO and president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, who is a social and political activist for advancing women’s full legal, social and moral equality.
  • Phyllis Randolph Frye, the “grandmother" of the national transgender legal and political movement and the first openly transgender judge in the U.S., who has dedicated her practice to representing and accelerating the freedom of all transgender individuals.
  • Jennifer Finney Boylan, professor, author and LGBT advocate, who wrote the first best-selling work by a transgender American and has consulted on both the Amazon series "Transparent" and the documentary series "I Am Cait."

A book signing will follow the event.

Tickets ($9, $16 and $43) may be purchased by phone at 877-840-0457 or 602-262-7272, or in person 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Mondays through Fridays at the Phoenix Convention Center, 100 N. Third St., or in person 5 to 7:30 p.m. on the day of the show at Orpheum Theatre box office, 203 W. Adams St.

Free student tickets: Two tickets per ASU student ID may be picked up in person at one of the above box-office locations.

For more information on Origins Project events, visit or call 480-965-0053.

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