CFP: Transgender Studies Quarterly: Transgender and Psychoanalysis

Call for Papers

TSQ: Transgender Studies Quarterly Volume 4 Issue 4

Transgender and Psychoanalysis

Special Issue Editor: Sheila L. Cavanagh

…it could be argued that analytic discourse is inherently transsexual (Gozlan 2015, 29).

Psychoanalytic theorists and analysts have often represented trans subjectivity and gender variance as pathological, deviant and non-normative. The early writings of Sigmund Freud on the female ‘masculinity complex’, ‘penis envy’ in ‘women,’ and Jacques Lacan’s writing on ‘transsexualist jouissance’ have been used to substantiate claims of trans pathology. Contemporary Lacanian psychoanalysis analysts, for example, have over-relied upon Catherine Millot’s (1989) Horsexe — a book that establishes a metonymic link between transsexuality, specifically trans feminine subjects, and psychosis (Adams 1996; Chiland 2000; Fiorini and Vainer 2003; Morel 2011; and Shepardson 2000). Unfortunately, this tendency isn’t limited to Lacanian theorists and analysts. It is evident in most psychoanalytic paradigms including Freudian, object relations, Kleinian and feminist psychoanalytic theory (Caldwell & Keshavan 1991; Laufer 1991; Siomopoulos 1974). Despite sophisticated theorizing on the drives, desire and jouissance, the bodily ego and the bodily imago, identification and disidentification, recognition and the Other, etc., there has been – until the last decade or so — a dearth of clinic and culturally informed writing on trans subjectivity in psychoanalysis.

Despite well-documented tensions between trans scholars (and activists) and psychoanalysts, trans-thoughtful conversations, writings and work in the clinical domain are beginning to occur.  Jay Prosser (1998) and Gayle Salamon (2004) were among the first trans studies scholars to use Freud’s writing on the bodily ego to understand trans sex embodiment.  In Lacanian psychoanalysis Shanna Carlson (2013), Sheila Cavanagh (2016), Patricia Gherovici (2010), Oren Gozlan (2014) and Patricia Elliot (2010) have not only critiqued the reduction of trans to pathology, but effectively used psychoanalytic theories to advance our understanding of trans identification and embodiment, trans desire and jouissance. There have also been important innovations engaging trans studies in relational psychoanalytic theories, notably in the work of Salamon & Corbett (2011), Harris (2011), Murel Dimen, Adrienne Harris and Virgina Goldner (2011). Compelling work is also happening in the Kleinian school (Hansbury, 2005) and in feminist psychoanalytic theory (Cavanagh, 2014; and Salamon 2010). These paradigm-shifting works invite us to understand trans not as pathology, but as invitation to push psychoanalysis beyond a normative Oedipal and cisgender conceptual frame. As Franz Kaltenbeck (1992), a psychoanalyst based in Paris and Lille, suggests, transsexuality is a “belvédère” (1992) for the clinic. Trans gives us a new psychic-architecture or vantage point from which to consider the psychic life of the subject.

As Patricia Gherovici (2010) writes, ‘Psychoanalysis needs a sex change’ and this special issue will profile trans-innovative works in psychoanalytic theory. Although there are significant distinctions between Freudian, Lacanian, Kleinian, object relations and French feminist psychoanalytic theories they can all be distinguished from psychology and psychiatry through their engagement with (a) unconscious processes and (b) a comparatively rich analytic tradition of interpreting the complexities of psychic life beyond ego-psychology (and identity politics). In other words, psychoanalysis addresses the way we are, to use Julia Kristeva’s (1991) often-cited title, ‘Strangers to Ourselves.’ Authors critically engaging trans studies and psychoanalysis, as opposed to psychology and psychiatry, are welcome to submit completed papers. Authors are invited to be critical of psychoanalysis while also working within and expanding the boundaries of the psychoanalytic concepts and theories guiding clinical work. Oedipus is not the only character in the family romance and it is high time we devoted critical psychoanalytic attention to trans subjects.

Possible topics may include (but are not limited to):

Histories and cultures of transphobia in psychoanalysis
Penis envy and the castration complex in Freud
‘Transsexualist jouissance’ in Lacan
Psychoanalysis after Horesexe (1989)
Daniel Schreiber
Transphobia and transference in the clinic.
The ‘talking cure’ and trans autobiography
Lying on the couch when faced with deportation, unemployment and loss of housing
Exile, racialization and trans subjects in the clinic
Tiresias and other trans figures associated with psychoanalytic mythology
Trans family romances after, beyond and alongside the house(s) of Oedipus
The artistry of transitioning
The psychic life of transitioning, trans identification and embodiment.
Trans psycho-sexual development
Female hysteria and trans masculine subjectivity
Recognition and gender misreadings in the clinic
The psychic life of transitioning
Gender, phantasy and the (cisgender) myth of the ‘perfect’ body
Trans scars and the psychoanalytic trace
Hormones, anxiety and affect.
Desire, transference and sexuality in the trans-clinic
The Other Jouissance (in Lacan) and trans desire
Trans bodily imago, body image and the Imaginary
The Symptom and the Sinthome
Trans sexuation
Trans analysts and the International Psychoanalytic Association (IPA)
Transing psychoanalytic paradigms, theories, cultures and histories.

To be considered, please send a full length submission by October 1, 2016. The expected range for scholarly articles is 5000 to 7000 words, and 1000 to 2000 words for shorter critical essays and descriptive accounts. Illustrations should be included with both completed submissions and abstracts. Any questions should be addressed by e-mail sent to the guest editor for the issue: Sheila Cavanagh (
Please send complete submissions by October, 2016. To submit a manuscript, please visit If this is your first time using Editorial Manager, please register first, then proceed with submitting your manuscript. Address any queries to All manuscripts must be double-spaced, including quotations and endnotes, and blinded throughout. Submissions will include  an abstract (150 words or less), keywords (3-5 for indexing), and a brief author’s biographical note (50 words or less) at the time of initial submission. Please visit for a detailed style guide.

TSQ: Transgender Studies Quarterly is co-edited by Paisley Currah and Susan Stryker, and published by Duke University Press, with editorial offices at the University of Arizona’s Institute for LGBT Studies. TSQ aims to be the journal of record for the interdisciplinary field of transgender studies and to promote the widest possible range of perspectives on transgender phenomena broadly defined. Every issue of TSQ is a specially themed issue that also contains regularly recurring features such as reviews, interviews, and opinion pieces. To learn more about the journal and see calls for papers for other issues, visit For info about subscriptions, visit

About Steve Mentz 1265 Articles
I teach Shakespeare and the blue humanities at St. John's in New York City.

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