March 2019 Transgender Mental Health Symposium NY, presenting “Psychoanalytic Dreams of Polymorphous Sleep: Lacan’s Perversion and Clinical Transphobia”

pcgs.pngIn March of 2019, I will be returning to New York for an event organized by the Psychotherapy Center for Gender and Sexuality, a division of the Institute for Contemporary Psychotherapy. This bi-annual symposium explores the psychodynamics of psychotherapeutic theory and practice in the context of transgender identities.

“Our 6th biannual conference, March 29th and 30th of 2019, will focus on the interplay of clinical practice and theories of development. Presenters will explore issues such as; how are clinicians approaching psychotherapy and psychoanalysis while engaging with traditional and emerging developmental theories? Although this is a clinical conference, we encourage clinicians and academics across disciplines to broaden the dialogue on these topics, both as presenters and as attendees.”

I will be presenting a paper which takes up some of the central questions in my dissertation, namely, Lacan’s perverse structure in relation to clinical transphobia.

Psychoanalytic Dreams of Polymorphous Sleep: Lacan’s Perversion and Clinical Transphobia

This workshop draws upon Lacan’s idiosyncratic thinking on “perversion” – that is, as a structural response to encountering lack in the other – as a way to conceptualize clinical anxiety surrounding transgender subjects. Lacan’s thinking uniquely puts perversion into conversation with castration, and further, presents an arguably queered, non-linear development of the subject.

Beginning with an close investigation of Lacan’s threefold model of diagnosis, we will explore the meanings he assigns to neurotic, perverse, and psychotic structures. This primer in Lacanian theories of subjectivity will provide a robust framework for understanding why all those with a neurotic structure (the most common psychical structure) unconsciously fantasize about being a pervert. This fundamental fantasy can further illuminate one of the factors contributing to clinical transphobia – a projection of the analyst’s desire for unlimited access to a lost jouissance.

To elucidate, this talk will make creative use of the popular science fiction novel “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep” by Phillip K Dick to consider how fantasies about androids mirror fantasies surrounding transgender patients. In both cases, the neurotic subject dreams that “there is no there there” (Stein 1937) (no castration), a wish that can be managed when applied to something outside the self. Thus in considering the analyst’s dream of non-human perversion, we will gain an understanding into the lingering resonances of this instantiating loss, as it appears in the clinic between analysts and their transgender patients.

Advertisements

A Devil Wears Prada Smackdown Analogy

Ive been researching the history of clinical psychoanalytic writing on transvestism, and for some reason a scene from the Devil Wears Prada keeps coming into my mind – where Miranda lays out the history of Andy’s cerulean top in a total unapologetic and evenhanded smack down. Arguably, one of the best scenes.

 

I’ve come up with some associations to share.

I think what Maranda does here, is trace an invisibilized genealogy and shows us how even the colour blue has a history that is welded to power. And I guess as I work on my dissertation research, can’t help but think about this in relation to knowledge production surrounding trans people and the discourse of the university. Some white rich guy like Robert Stoller (in this metaphor Oscar De La Renta) comes up with a psychoanalytic explanation for gender identity or sexual pathology (cerulean dresses), the idea floats around, is picked up and remoulded, passed through the hands of many other thinkers, and eventually comes out many other ends – found in the “casual corner store clearance bin,” which could perhaps be homonormativity or homonationalism. Really if we are creating a hierarchy of ideas we could end up at any point, as hierarchy is relative. Let’s not invite Jordan Peterson into this conversation.

But what Miranda leaves out is that Stoller and De La Renta often take these “designs” from somewhere else – and in particular from those minoritarian communities who form ideas or resistances seen as overly radical, unwieldy, aberrant, perverse, repackaged and made digestible for those with social status lends authority. These ideas are often seen as a part of their own genius, their capacity to think outside of the box, and imagine something novel. This one way that colonization and racism function seamlessly too – ideas, culture, knowledge that is considered backwards in the hands of people of colour and indigenous people is held in high regard when appropriated by white folks. And in Robert Stoller’s case, these ideas were borrowed from his patients – trans & intersex folks who stories and dreams (actual dreams!) can be found in the psychoanalytic studies used to condemn them.

So these were our ideas, bodies, and experiences to begin with – keep refinding and rewriting.

meryl-streep-that's-all

 

Sexuality Studies Institute 2017 lecturers

The Summer Institute for Sexuality Studies faculty has been finalized! 

Make sure to check out the institute’s official website for updates. I will be posting about the public events soon…..

http://siss.info.yorku.ca

Dr. David Eng (University of Pennsylvania)

The SISS 2017 thematic focus originates from the call of David Eng for building analytical linkages between psychoanalysis, queer theory and ethnic studies, which he had vocalized in a number of publications. He is well-known to students of queer and critical race theories as an author of canonical books The Feeling of Kinship: Queer Liberalism and the Racialization of Intimacy (Duke, 2010)and Racial Castration: Managing Masculinity in Asian America
 (Duke, 2001), and also as a co-editor with Jack Halberstam and José Esteban Muñoz of the special issue of Social Text: What’s Queer about Queer Studies Now (2005). The SISS 2017 will particularly benefit from Eng’s expertise in queer theory, transnational racial relations, the history of law, and his analysis of race in psychoanalytic clinical cases.

 

Dr. Amber Jamilla Musser (Washington University)

Amber Jamilla Musser’s expertise includes three pivotal theoretical perspectives of the SISS 2017: queer theory, critical race studies, and psychoanalysis. Musser has researched and published on brown femininity, whiteness, affect, masochism, and interracial relations. Her recent book Sensational Flesh: Race, Power and Masochism (NYU Press, 2014) offers an innovative methodological perspective employing masochism as a diagnostic tool to understand systemic racism, patriarchy and colonialism. Musser’s lecture will introduce students to her current work on contemporary art and the concept of brown jouissance.

 

Dr. Trish Salah (Queen’s University)

Trish Salah’s work is situated in the areas of postcolonial, feminist, and sexual minority literatures; comparative analysis of race and racisms; sexualities, genders and modernities; transnational cultural production; psychoanalysis and affect theory; sex work; transgender studies; and un/popular culture. Her books of poetry Wanting in Arabic (Mawenzi House, 2013) and Lyric Sexology (SPD, 2014) creatively explore diasporic trans and queer subjectivities, and employ the lyric as a lens to read transgender fantasies encoded in feminist, autobiographical, anthropological, and psychoanalytic archives. At SISS 2017, Salah’s unique expertise in transgender and diasporic cultural production will be employed in the creative and experimental writing workshop on poetry, perversity and power.

 

Dr. Aparna Mishra Tarc (York University)

Aparna Mishra Tarc is Associate Professor at the Faculty of Education York University. Her scholarship examines the dynamic place of pedagogy in the ongoing subject formation of person.  Mishra Tarc is the author of many articles and the book Literacy of the Other: Renarrating Humanity (SUNY Press).  She is currently working on the book length project Pedagogy in the Novels of J.M. Coetzee (Routledge).