by Dr. Jem Tosh
A few months ago in an interview with Zoë Martin I was asked what queering psychology means for a new exhibit for Psychology's Feminist Voices. Below there is a brief preview where I give my thoughts on what queering psychology is. You can watch the whole interview on the exhibit website and the full transcript is available too. So, have a look if you want to hear about if I think we have queered psychology already, what role I think allies have, and what queerness has to do with psychology anyway.
From Psychology's Feminist Voices - Queering Psychology Exhibit [video transcript]:
"For me, queering psychology is about de-pathologization. My work looks a lot at the history of psychology, and compares it to today. And it's just impossible to know that without being very aware of how queerness has been very negatively represented within psychology and a lot of the historical texts and works and the — observing those changes, but also being aware of how a lot of those negative representations are still carried through in certain spaces in psychology for that.
creating more positive narratives about queerness, that moves it away from mental illness
So for me, queering psychology is addressing that, changing that, countering, that, producing discourses and narratives that center queerness in a way that isn't framing it as an abnormality. That's kind of one big part of it. And the other part, for me, is not just so much as creating more positive narratives about queerness, that moves it away from mental illness and all that kind of thing, but de-centering heterosexuality and deconstructing that norm that has been produced over such a long period of time — It's just so strong and so influential — that even in spaces that aren't, you know, outwardly homophobic or, um, framing queerness as, as abnormal, you still find that it's considered as like an extra on the side if it's considered at all.
Is there a reason you don't think queer parents exist?
So I think there's been, there have been a couple of times where I've been really surprised and maybe I shouldn't be, but you know, I remember talking to a researcher once that was talking about parenting. That was kind of the research area. And I was chatting about the research that I do and they're like, “Oh, that's so interesting... but, you know, sexuality isn't really relevant to my work.” And I was kind of like, “is there a reason you don't think queer parents exist?” There's these kinds of decisions where people think that queerness is only relevant in sexuality studies and that queer people only belong in this little sub-category over here [gestures to the side]. So for me, queering psychology is about challenging that."
Want to know more about the history of queerness and psychology? Curious about how psychology has framed queer people and how queer people have framed psychology? Read Perverse Psychology, which traces how psychology frames queer sexualities and gender nonconformity and outlines the development of conversion therapies. For more on problematic psychological treatment practices with queer folks, check out The Body and Consent in Psychology, Psychiatry, and Medicine: A Therapeutic Rape Culture.