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Transgender Psychoanalysis

Student: Liubov Subbotina

Supervisor: Svetlana Fedorova

Faculty: Faculty of Social Sciences

Educational Programme: Psychoanalysis and Psychoanalytical Psychotherapy (Master)

Year of Graduation: 2020

The aim of this thesis is to account for the phenomenon of transgender in the perspective of contemporary psychoanalysis. The study accomplishes the following tasks: 1. The review of cultural and ideological prerequisites of the emergence and subsequent de-pathologization of transsexualism in the second half of the XX century. 2. The analysis of the first attempts of psychoanalytical account of male and female transsexuality in the works of Robert Stoller “Sex and Gender” and “Splitting: A Case of Female Masculinity”. 3. The analysis of manifestations of male and female transsexuality and transvestism using the contemporary conception of perversion as suggested by A. Greene, J. Chasseguet-Smirgel, Monique Jibot, D. MacDuggal, O. Kernberg, R. Stoller, and others. 4. The inquiry into the process of symbolization and primal scene fantasy by transsexuals. 5. The account of male and female transsexuality in the context of the contemporary concept of pervert motherhood introduced by Estela Welldon. 6. A detailed analysis of clinical work with the symptoms of gender identity dysfunctions of children and teenagers using the case of psychoanalysts from the adolescent and young adult service of the Portman Clinic in London. 7. The application of theoretical frameworks mentioned above to account for clinical cases of the author of this thesis. Using the theoretical framework and the analysis of practice of dealing with gender identity disorder at the Portman Clinic this study presents two clinical cases and suggests several ways of psychoanalytic understanding of etiology of different manifestations of transsexuality and options for psychoanalytic treatment of the cases. The outcomes of this study are the following. A new direction in the development of philosophical and social ideas has emerged in the postmodern epoch. The queer-theory announced the deconstruction of the binary gender system, which led to the de-pathologization of the phenomenon of transgender. Transsexuality came to be identified with a new form of gender identity. However, its main psychodynamic characteristics (key psychological defense mechanisms, the degree of integrity of identity) associate transsexuality with unsexualized perversion. Also, unconscious processes of trassexuals feature a disturbed process of symbolization and a fantasy of self-conception instead of the primal scene fantasy. The concept of pervert motherhood provides the theoretical ground for the development of transsexuality in the case of fetish object relation to one’s child in combination with the unconscious rejection to accept the child’s sex. The analysis of treatment of gender dysfunctions of children and teenagers has demonstrated that the manifestations of transsexuality can have very different etiology and psychoanalytic treatment expectation. These dysfunctions may be a version of psychic defensive mechanisms associated with incorporation caused by the loss of the meaningful object of the opposite sex; they can be a symptom of dysfunction of the process of separation with the mother-object; or they can be an inborn experience of one’s otherness associated with the pervert motherhood. The choice of psychotherapeutic strategy and subsequent treatment expectation depend upon the understanding of the cases and origins of these dysfunctions.

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