LGBT – While some retrograde psychologists warn about the “transgender epidemic” which is raging in the country, it seems important to me to return to the fundamentals of psychoanalysis. Our patients remind us every day that their symptoms are anchored in the societal standards in force, which they change at the discretion of external injunctions. So, with all due respect to a cohort of overwhelmed shrinks, the lines are moving in terms of symbolic sexuation, in an increasingly obvious overtaking of the binary code, which, like the black code, has led to limiting, blind behavior, sometimes completely. utterly tyrannical. Straight / Gay, Active / Passive, Male / Female …
All of these mental constructions tend to decline, taking with them the supremacy of patriarchy and those chauvinistic scents. Today, the assigned sex can be renegotiated, in order to avoid the imaginary disaster of feeling like one of the other sex with the obligation to keep silent or to live it in a shameful, painful way, by means of hijacked and labeled as perverts. There is an opening. We are at the dawn of a full and complete recognition of the transgender issue, at the edge of all the mysteries of our identity as human beings, between masculine and feminine, between omnipotence and vulnerability. Vice-President of PsyGAY.es, an association bringing together shrinks from all persuasions and aiming to unconditionally welcome the voices of LGBTQIA + people, I have chosen to illustrate the thinking of this forum with a clinical case, met in my liberal cabinet, which will, I hope, be able to invite to reflection, these defensive shrinks, spoken by the patriarchal norm, and especially eager to camp on their education, their certainties, rather than on their analysis.
Today, subpoena sex can be renegotiated
Samuel (the first name has been changed) is an eleven-year-old boy who consults me just after the broadcast of Arte’s documentary, “Little girl”. His parents first contacted the PSYgay.es switchboard and were referred to me, the latter living in the Hauts-de-Seine.
They both come, on a Wednesday afternoon, with an extremely mature Samuel for his age, speaking in fine French, impeccable diction, around his desire to “become a girl”.
Samuel is in front of me; he is seated in the middle of his two parents, listening, smiling, visibly relaxed. Like their son. “I always felt like a girl, I waited a bit to talk about it. But now I’m sure what I want. So there is no longer any problem ”. This is how this consultation, the first, begins. Samuel tells me of a kind of inner outcome even before telling me about him and his young life. On this subject, I feel that at the height of his eleven years, this patient has had many thoughts to come to this conclusion. He wouldn’t be able to speak with such aplomb, such confidence, if these things were put away; or worse, induced by parental demand.
I choose precisely not to turn to the parents, who nevertheless strongly solicit me with their gaze.
“And at eleven, what experience do you have with girls and boys?
—I know I’m a girl because I never felt like a boy. For a long time, I tried to be one. I made an effort …
—Efforts for whom? ”
Samuel turns to his father and smiles at him. He takes her hand and nods in agreement. The child marks a long silence.
“Efforts for my family.
—Did your family want you to be a little boy?
—Yes, I think she wanted me to be happy …
The mother, visibly moved, interrupts Samuel.
—We still want your happiness, my darling. ”
I found this rectification extremely happy from the parent. Indeed, I often hear in the cures of parents of homosexual or transgender children: “I wanted a normal child, because the norm is happiness”. The normative injunction justifies the family torment. The parent can then regret that his child is homosexual or transgender without withdrawing his love from him, by putting his homophobia or his transphobia on the account of the concern that his offspring be “as happy as possible”. However, in this clinical case, the normative injunction gave way to a parental dynamic attentive to the psychic movements of the child caught in his singularity.
“We didn’t want to fall into the ‘what will we say’ trap. I have a brother with Down’s syndrome and I know very well how stupid and disrespectful people are, the father will explain to me. ”
The normative injunction justifies the family torment
Here again, I hear that Samuel’s parents refuse the normative pinning aimed at suffering from any difference, whatever it may be. Samuel’s uncle’s Down’s syndrome had allowed the father to overcome the threshold of shame even before having confronted the identity of his own son. Thus, the stigmatization from which he had suffered (“You are the brother of a triso”, he had long heard in the playground) served as a firebreak for the fear of “what will we say” . So to speak, Samuel’s claim was on the same path of emancipation from the social norm, again claiming a sort of ethical requirement, beyond normative representations.
″— And how do you want to become a girl? I mean how far? …
— I want to take hormone therapy as soon as possible.
— Yes. I don’t want it to take time… ”
I may be a gay psychoanalyst, but I am nonetheless cisgender and ultimately quite shy about the transgender question, especially when it concerns eleven-year-old children. I choose quite spontaneously not to hide my resistance to my young patient, not to pretend with regard to my questions of temporality, surgery, hormonal intake, even if it means using clumsy formulas, even if it means not being clear with my own thoughts. I believe that the most important is that the patient and his family feel an authentic commitment on my part, a transferential dynamic in the service of a clarification, not of a dogma (in one direction or the other). At that time, for example, I know that the use of the word “girl” or of the word “boy” is already part of a binary that we can question later with Samuel, but this lexical field comes to me automatically. . To hesitate, to get around these things would amount to transmitting to him a discomfort that has no need to be, that he is also struggling to overcome.
Samuel’s mother calls out to me:
“Do you think it’s too early for treatment?
— I did not say that. I just wonder if Samuel “tried himself as a boy” enough to be sure he wanted to become a girl, as he just put it to us. ”
The child is sure of himself:
“Yes, I told you it was safe.”
“How’s it going at school?
— Bah, well …
— There is no mockery of other children …
— I don’t know… They don’t tell you that you are too this, not that enough?…
— No! Never…”
Samuel is not overly feminine. No comrade, according to him, would remark on his physique or his voice. However, at the age of eleven, he seems to have already thought about the question of his long-term transition, as if he had had, in latency, since his birth, what psychiatrists call today, referring to the DSM, a “Gender dysphoria”.
Which feminine are we talking about exactly? And what masculine for that matter?
Samuel disturbs me as this first session unfolds. Why does he absolutely want to leave the genre to which he was assigned at birth if he is not precisely identified with a particular genre, if the gaze of the other does not pin him to a stigma?
Often, in my capacity as an LGBTQIA + psychologist, I have considered that the identity suffering of sexual minorities in childhood and adolescence (in the first glance of this normative environment) was such as a change of gender, when this this is desired by the subject, was preferable to such torture. In a way, he could put an end to an imaginary symbolic torture in two stages: self-assertion (the subjectification of his gender in his own discourse towards those around him, his parents first and foremost) and transformation physical (renouncing one’s original gender by taking hormones and / or surgery). But Samuel’s case also allowed me to understand that the violence of the immediate environment was not always the detonator of such a decision, intimate if it was.
I had the reflex in the second part of the session to go and question this famous “mother’s desire”, thinking of this psychoanalytic postulate according to which the child often comes to respond to an unconscious maternal request by adopting a certain type of behavior or by defending itself excessively. However, there again, I could only note the extreme psychic flexibility of this woman, herself in analysis for many years, who could quite, in front of her son, evoke his representations of the masculine and the feminine, his regret. of not having been a boy, but her joy at being a woman, her desire to be part of a radical feminism, but her boundless admiration for her husband, “who is not at all a macho”… Everything , in his words, allowed Samuel to tie in with one genre or another, or to claim his non-binarity.
As for the father of the child, although less experienced in this type of thinking, he also had an appropriate reasoning on this subject, by expressing, among other things, his wish to have “a son free to love what ‘he wants and who he wants’. He said, smiling, that he had never dreamed of a boy footballer or rugby player, while he himself was fond of round and oval ball. About this, Samuel explained to me almost immediately afterwards that he was very fond of football… But women’s football. He probably read my surprise in my eyes.
“And may I ask you a question, Samuel?
— Do you already have a preference between girls and boys?
— I knew you were going to ask me that question. No, I have no preference. I really like both. Come on, maybe a slight preference for girls …
— So you’re a girl deep down, a girl who prefers girls?
— You could say that.”
Samuel’s parents in turn caressed their child’s head tenderly after this new smiling affirmation. At the end of this clinical interview, I saw Samuel two more times. Each time, it was a question for him to reiterate his wish to take hormones as soon as possible. He told me about his school escapades, his passion for horseback riding, the whims of his older sister … There was a real adaptation, which did not seem to me to mask any deficiency or narcissistic weakness. The transition project, verbalized and integrated both on an individual and family level, structured Samuel’s thought, giving it a foundation and a deep meaning. He didn’t need a psychologist!
See also on Then24: Queen Elizabeth announces conversion therapy to be banned