by Dr. Jem Tosh
I met my recent editor under unusual circumstances. I was contacted via email with a request to write a book on the topic of 'gender dysphoria'. We agreed to meet in person and talk more, as the topic itself is complex with much disagreement and debate. I needed to make sure that they were looking for the kind of critical, trans-inclusive, and feminist book that I was planning to write. At our meeting, we discovered that our paths had crossed before, only briefly. My editor had developed an interest in the topic after attending a conference some years earlier - I conference where there was such controversy regarding the keynote speaker that there was a protest outside. We laughed as we soon discovered that while my editor was inside the conference promoting books, I was outside with the protesters.
My first book, Perverse Psychology, was a critical analysis of psychology and psychiatry and the many problematic ways they frame sexual violence and transgender people. I concluded that it was the profession that was perverse, not those they claim to 'treat'. My new book builds on this work, by including a more in-depth analysis of psychology and psychiatry's framing of gender nonconformity - including a broader range of diagnoses related to gender (e.g. masochistic personality disorder, borderline personality disorder, hysteria, autogynephilia, transvestism, gender dysphoria) as well as more detail and critique regarding treatment approaches - such as gender conversion therapies.
The second part of the book addresses the longstanding tensions between feminist and transgender perspectives, most notably those from trans-exlusionary radical feminism (or 'TERF') and trans feminists. It shows how oppressive and transphobic accounts of gender, that are used to silence and victimize trans people from within feminism, actually draw on and parallel dominant narratives from psychology and psychiatry. I conclude that feminist, queer, and trans critiques need to incorporate sanism into their intersectional analyses of oppression.
Psychology and Gender Dysphoria: Feminist and Transgender Perspectives will be published by Routledge in March 2016.
Psychiatry and psychology have a long and highly debated history in relation to gender. In particular, they have attracted criticism for policing the boundaries of ‘normal’ gender expression through gender identity diagnoses, such as transvestism, transsexualism, gender identity disorder and gender dysphoria.
Drawing on discursive psychology, this book traces the historical development of psychiatric constructions of ‘normal’ and ‘abnormal’ gender expression. It contextualizes the recent reconstruction of gender in the 5th edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) and its criteria for gender dysphoria. This latest diagnosis illustrates the continued disagreement and debate within the profession surrounding gender identity as ‘disordered’. It also provides an opportunity to reflect on the conflicted history between feminist and transgender communities in the changing context of a more trans-positive feminism, and the implications of these diagnoses for these distinct but linked communities.
Psychology and Gender Dysphoria examines debates and controversies surrounding psychiatric diagnoses and theories related to gender and gender nonconformity by exploring recent research, examples of collaborative perspectives, and existing feminist and trans texts. As such, the book is relevant for postgraduate and postdoctoral researchers of gender, feminism, and critical psychology as well as historical issues within psychiatry.
2. Psychiatric Constructions of Women and Femininity
3. Psychiatric Constructions of Transgender Identities and Gender Nonconformity
4. Feminist Constructions of Gender Dysphoria and Transgender People
5. Transgender Constructions of Psychiatry and Feminism
6. Conclusions: A Trans Feminist Antipsychology
"Tosh's skillful genealogical analysis is simply outstanding... she has urged those aligned with feminist, constructionist, and poststructural epistemologies to engage in greater self-reflection regarding their own epistemological views, and to be acutely aware of their potential for harm." Diana Kuhl, Psychology of Women and Equalities Review, 2016
"Tosh has much to offer those new to the study of the intersections of transgender studies and the psy disciplines." Damien W. Riggs, Flinders University
"This book poses valuable theories and critiques for any college course on the psychology of women, disability, or transgender studies... it is a big step in the right direction." Layla Zbinden, Savannah Schlauderaff, Esther Rothblum, Psychology of Women Quarterly