Originally (and proudly) from New Jersey, Mel Ferrara is currently pursuing their Ph.D. in Gender and Women’s Studies at the University of Arizona in Tucson. As a non-binary trans person who grew up in a conservative small town and who attended a traditional all-girls Catholic high school, Mel enthusiastically delved into queer studies and advocacy work when they began attending Muhlenberg College in 2011. They became deeply involved in the campus’ multicultural center, serving in several leadership positions. Mel is proud to be co-founder and former co-president of the Muhlenberg Trans Advocacy Coalition, a student organization that has produced numerous institutional changes benefiting trans and gender non-conforming community members.
As an undergraduate, Mel studied in the Netherlands and Morocco, pursuing independent research on international approaches to intersex health care, with a focus on patient narratives. They received their BA in 2015 with a double major in gender and sexuality studies (which they self-designed) and philosophy/political thought. Invested in interdisciplinary and intersectional methodologies, Mel began attending the University of Arizona in 2015 as a member of the University Fellows program, pursuing their Ph.D. in the Department of Gender and Women’s Studies with a minor in anthropology. Mel’s research interests are trans and intersex studies, biopolitics, and medicalization of the body. They aim to utilize their research on intersex (particularly the experiences of men with Klinefelter Syndrome) to propose more ethical health care models that are rooted in patient agency. Ultimately, Mel’s professional aspirations are to be both a professor and an activist, working at the juncture of scholarship and advocacy.