About the Department

GSS COVID-19 information can be found here

A dynamic interdisciplinary program, Gender and Sexuality Studies at USC offers its majors, minors and graduate certificate students a heady intellectual environment, a sense of community, and unparalleled personalized attention.  Our curriculum explores the myriad ways gender and sexuality impact politics, intimate life, culture, the workplace, athletics, technology, health, science, and in the very production of knowledge itself.  Our courses emphasize that gender is not a freestanding category, but rather one that takes shape through its intersection with other relations of power, including sexuality, race, ethnicity, class, nationality, and religion.

We also encourage and foster “real world” experience beyond the classroom through our internship program, open only to majors. Through our community internship programs, students gain course credit for valuable gender-related work experience at a range of organizations, including women’s health clinics, the world’s largest international LGBT  archive, Hollywood studios and other sectors in the creative industry, as well as in non-profit and social justice organizations. 

Drawn  from across the university, our faculty consists of leaders in their fields of specialization, including popular and public culture, LGBTQ studies, sports and gender, reproductive rights, class and social movements, politics and government, and new medical technologies.  

Located in the heart of Los Angeles, our university and department occupy a predominantly Black and brown neighborhood. Our department remains committed to both maintaining and forging deep connections and collaborations with our surrounding community, through mutual care and mutual aid. 

By necessity, gender and sexuality studies departments, so hard-won as our own and others have been across the world, were built not only to provide an institutional home for research centering women, people of color and sexual minorities, but also to build worlds: to provide spaces that would give our students and communities respite and refuge from gendered, racialized and sexualized oppression. This is something our department has provided  for our students and surrounding community at USC. 

Indeed, we are tremendously proud of our alumni who continue this work in a range of fields including communications and media, the arts and education, business and non-profit organizations, politics, social justice and government, as well as in the law, health, and athletics. And we welcome any and all to our community as we work together to imagine a more just and equitable world.


Learning Competencies:
  • Critical thinking
  • Research skills
  • Community-engaged creativity and collaboration
  • Feminist knowledge production
  • Intersectionality
  • Queer and transgender theory
  • Justice, equality and power
  • Transnationalism
  • Decoloniality




LGBTQ+ undergrads!

GSS Undergraduate Council members Mariana Kramer de Luna and Estephanie Garcia welcome you to campus and offer resources, advice, and honest conversation about building LGBTQ+ community on campus in this special podcast just for you!






Read Professor Eliz Sanasarian's (USC Political Science and Gender & Sexuality Studies) article in The Conversation, "Headcovers have always been political in Iran – for women on all sides," here.



As an institutional member of the National Women's Studies Association, we wish to share this statement in solidarity:

NWSA Stands in Solidarity with Iranian Protestors

we fight because we must
we rise up because there is no other path to freedom
except straight through the road of resistance
built by the hands of our oppressors

Read the full National Women's Studies Association statement here.



As an institutional member of the National Women's Studies Association, we wish to share this statement in solidarity:

NWSA Statement on Leaked Draft of the SCOTUS Decision to Overturn Roe v. Wade

"As transnational, Indigenous, and intersectional feminist scholars, we are compelled to speak out about the implications of the leaked draft of the Supreme Court's decision to overturn the landmark 1973 case of Roe v. Wade. If it does happen, this decision will reverse the last 50 years of precedent and give the state the ultimate authority to govern, police, and oversee our most personal decisions about our bodies. It will disproportionately impact economically challenged communities of color and marginalized groups who are already navigating through the existing health care obstacles. We unequivocally affirm that a person's right to govern their body is a fundamental human right, which must be enshrined into the law, now more than ever. The reversal of Roe will impact all people's ability to have reproductive choices."

Full NWSA statement can be read here.



Statement on Anti-Asian Violence

Like so many of our colleagues and comrades in women's, gender and sexuality studies across the country, the USC Department of Gender & Sexuality Studies is devastated and outraged by the murder of eight people, including six Asian women, at massage parlors and spas in the greater Atlanta region this week. We are also appalled by the surge in violence towards the AAPI community, particularly Asian women, since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, though this vitriol, prejudice and racialized as well as sexualized violence has not been limited to this contemporary moment. Indeed, anti-Asian violence and policies have a long history in the U.S. reaching back to the nineteenth century.

As Professor Dorinne Kondo in ASE and anthropology noted in a recent Dornsife magazine article on the rise of anti-Asian violence, "“Histories of imperialism and war, Orientalism as the masculine penetration of a supine, feminized Asia and the scapegoating of Asians as disease-bearing, eternal foreigners all shape the Atlanta murders.

Our own Professor Rhacel Parreñas (GSS and sociology) also reminds us that, "The association of commercial sex with violence suggests the victims knowingly put themselves in harm’s way. One of many problems with calling it sex trafficking is that it redirects us from seeing it for what it is. It is a gendered racialized violence, dehumanizing Asian women as disposable bodies for white male rage.

In the spirit of solidarity with the AAPI community not only at USC, but throughout the U.S., as well as with our colleagues in GSS, WGS, American studies, and race, migration and ethnic studies throughout the country, we are sharing these thoughtful, incisive statements composed by scholars Mimi Thi Nguyen at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign; Anna Storti, Najwa Mayer, Mingwei Huang, Carolyn Choi, and Yanyi at the Dartmouth Consortium of Studies in Race, Migration and Sexuality, and Kalé Fajardo in the Department of American Studies and the Race, Indigeneity, Gender & Sexuality Initiative at the University of Minnesota. We appreciate the labor, care and deep context our colleagues have invested in these remarks, and we hope they also provide succor and strength to our extended community here at USC as we confront white supremacy and its atrocities.

Karen Tongson
Chair, Gender & Sexuality Studies


University of Illinois Asian American Studies and Gender and Women's Studies Statement on Anti-Asian Violence


"The recent rise in anti-Asian violence against all ages and genders in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic has a deep-seated history in U.S. culture, white supremacy, and harmful stereotypes of Asian migrants as carriers of disease and contagion. The former president fueled this hatred by repeatedly calling the coronavirus the 'China virus,' and 'kung flu,' and his words are echoed by millions of Americans even as reported anti-Asian violence rose 150% in 2020. But this latest incident of violence demands that we account for the specific vulnerabilities of Asian migrants who are targeted while working at massage parlors and spas, Asian migrants who are often poor and sometimes undocumented, Asian migrants who are subject to sexualized violence whether or not they traded sex because of an enduring animus toward sex workers, Asian women, and immigrants. After all, it is the fantasized figure of the migrant Asian sex worker who is the foundation of U.S. anti-immigration law. The first immigration restriction legislation, the Page Act of 1875, prohibited the migration of all Chinese women, described as 'lewd' and 'immoral,' on the assumption that all Chinese women engaged in sex work. A century of U.S. military operations in Asia and the Pacific oversaw the expansion of sex trades around bases, and reinforced the non-accountability for U.S. soldiers’ racialized sexual violence toward all Asian women, from Okinawa to Saigon to Manila. Asian and Asian immigrant women have been particularly vulnerable to multiple forms of violence within these longer histories of U.S. militarism and law."


Dartmouth Consortium of Studies in Race, Migration and Sexuality statement on Anti-Asian Violence


"As we witness the rise in anti-Asian violence in the United States within the last year, we must also and always account for its continuities. There is a vicious specificity to the violence we see today– how it marks a broad racial figure of the 'Chinese,' how it targets elder generations, and how it produces a violent metaphor between 'Asian' and/as COVID-contagion. Yet, to imagine this recent rise in anti-Asian violence as exceptional or episodic dangerously discounts the continuous racist premise of US imperial and settler violence."


Department of American Studies and the Race, Indigeneity, Gender & Sexuality Initiative Statement Against Anti-Asian Racism and Misogyny and the Mass Shooting of Asian Women in Atlanta


"The hyper-sexualization of Asian women by white men and other men in the Global North, including in and from the US, has continued due to massive tourism in/to Asia and racist portrayals of Asian/Asian American women in popular culture, including Hollywood films, tv, and the pornography industry (see Celine Shimizu’s The Hypersexuality of Race: Performing Asian/American on Screen and Scene, 2007.) While we understand that immigrant women of color working in intimate/sex industries are particularly vulnerable, we also believe that many women of color, immigrants, and migrants have agency in choosing their livelihoods, so we encourage the general public and the media to be respectful in how they discuss or describe the Asian/Asian American women who were killed in Atlanta."




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  • Gender & Sexuality Studies
  • University of Southern California
  • Mark Taper Hall of Humanities, 422
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