Trans-Analytics: Psychoanalysis, Gender, and History

deadline for submissions: 
October 1, 2024
full name / name of organization: 
Carolyn Laubender/ University of Essex




Trans-Analytics: Psychoanalysis, Gender, and History

Special Issue of Psychoanalysis and History

Editor: Carolyn Laubender (University of Essex)

Editorial Advisory Board: Matt ffytche, Dagmar Herzog, Camille Robcis, Dany Nobus, and Hannah Zeavin



Context and Aims:

In November 2019, Paul B. Preciado gave a lecture at the annual meeting of the Ecole de la Cause Freudienne that caused an uproar among the 3500 French psychoanalysts present. Preciado’s talk—entitled “Can the Monster Speak?” and delivered to a group of largely Lacanian clinicians—censured the colonial and cis-heteropatriarchal foundations of much psychoanalytic homophobia and transphobia. Before Preciado could even finish, he was booed off stage. The lecture was recorded and immediately went viral for its dramatic and affective crystallization of the exact racial, gender, and sexual shortcomings of psychoanalysis that Preciado diagnosed. Five years on, the event still marks a productive flashpoint for the tensions between psychoanalysis and trans studies—as well as for the exigency of their (re)encounter. 


This special issue of Psychoanalysis and History aims to grapple with the pressing intersections, gaps, overlaps, discords, illuminations, erasures, continuities, repressions, and syntheses that have long characterized the relationship between transgender experience and psychoanalytic theory and practice. As has now been well-established in scholarship, psychoanalysis has a durable, fraught, and complex history when it comes to its theorization and treatment of gender and sexual diversity. On the one hand—and as Preciado’s talk rightly confirms—it is known for having consolidated and authorized some of the most restricted, phobic, and pathologizing frameworks used to stymie the flourishing of gender and sexual variety. In its postwar institutionalized especially, psychoanalytic theorists and analysts have routinely branded trans and gender non-conforming [GNC] individuals ‘psychotic’. This is demonstrated perhaps most infamously in the French clinical work of Lacanians like Catherine Millot (Horsexe, 1989) and Genevieve Morel (Sexual Ambiguities, 2011) and, more recently, through Jacques-Alain Miller, who parrots right wing moral panics by lamenting the “trans crisis.” But equally contemporary British clinicians of the Kleinan school like David Bell have cast themselves as “whistle-blowers” calling out the supposedly dangerous “ideological war” being waged at gender clinics such as the former London-based branch of the Tavistock, ‘GIDS’ [the Gender Identity Development Service], which served as one of the only NHS-funded sites for gender-affirming care for under-18s in the UK. Beyond the clinical world—which already carries associations with normativity, adaptation, and conversion in academic circles—even otherwise astute academic engagements with psychoanalysis, such as Tim Dean’s Beyond Sexuality, have trafficked in routine transphobia. Through concepts like psychosis, projection, castration, sexual difference, penis envy, and denial, numerous versions of psychoanalysis (as theory and as practice) have been antagonistic to both trans persons and trans scholarship. As Susan Stryker has recently put it, “psychoanalysis has more often than not proven itself painfully maladapt in dealing with the class of problems that transgender feelings present without resorting to pathologizing interpretations” (2017, p. 422-23). According to Patricia Gherovici, “psychoanalysis needs a sex change” (2011).


And yet, there is another side to psychoanalysis, one that entails a wide array of radical and flexible concepts for understanding gender and sexual embodiment, desire, fantasy, and change. The unconscious, bisexuality, polymorphous perversity, phantasy, the libido, orality and anality, the death drive, jouissance, identification, sadism, masochism, and the breast have all become important critical concepts for queer, feminist, and trans studies scholars. Indeed, as early as 1905 Freud made a bold claim about the universality of psychosexual queerness by declaring that we have all made a “homosexual object choice… in [our] unconscious” and by proposing that “the exclusive sexual interest felt by men for women is also a problem that needs elucidating” (p. 10-12). Since then, numerous psychoanalytic and trans studies scholars—including Patricia Gherovici, Jay Prosser, Griffin Hansbury, Avgi Saketopoulou, Sheila L. Cavanagh, Oren Gozlan, Shanna T. Carlson, Jacob Breslow, Patricia Elliot, Ken Corbett, Eve Watson, Alessandra Lemma, and Jordan Osserman—have not just contested the pathologization of trans experience, but have creatively repurposed psychoanalytic concepts to expand the range of non-identitarian approaches to trans. According to Gozlan, “it could be argued that analytic discourse [itself] is inherently transsexual” (2015, p. 29).


In this special issue, Trans-Analytics: Psychoanalysis, Gender, and History, we pursue the intersection of these two fields with a specifically historical focus. While there has been a number of clinical and academic special issues on trans psychoanalysis (TSQ 2017; Studies in Gender and Sexuality 2022; Psychoanalytic Perspectives 2023), our issue pursues a broad “history of the present” so as to better expand our understanding of psychoanalysis’s potentials and pitfalls. We thus adopt an expansive understanding of historical methods and objects and are interested in innovative scholarship that challenges disciplinary norms. How, for instance, might psychoanalytic concepts (such as Nachträglichkeit or the unconscious) help us think about histories of trans experience before the consolidation of “gender”? What role does psychoanalytic practice play in gender clinics and medical transition, historically and/or globally? How do trans studies’ own analytics—trans feminist, travesti, Black trans, trans Marxist—help us rethink both canonical and newly recovered work from the psychoanalytic archive? How might trans theory and experience help an expansive reframing of foundational psychoanalytic concepts, such as fetishism, transference, phantasy, identification, lack, or containment? We thus invite authors to submit abstracts for a wide range of approaches and topics that work at the triangulated intersection of psychoanalysis, trans/gender, and history, broadly conceived. 


Potential Topics Include (but are not limited to):

  • New methods resulting from the intersection of trans studies and psychoanalytic theory
  • Historical or archival case studies of trans and GNC patients in the clinic
  • Intersectional analysis of the impact of race, indigeneity, colonialism, class, dis/ability, or sexuality on transgender psychoanalysis
  • Global and transnational explorations of the that role psychoanalysis plays in trans politics and care around the world, past and present
  • Analysis of the role of psychological, psychiatric, or psychoanalytic gender clinics throughout history and/or in multinational locations
  • Revitalized considerations of trans and gender-variant experience, interiority, and psychic life throughout history
  • Re-readings of classic psychoanalytic texts or cases, such as Freud’s discussion of Daniel Paul Schreber, Lacan’s analysis of ‘Primeau,’ or Joan Riviere’s “Womanliness as Masquerade”
  • Historical exploration of gender variety as related to the multidisciplinary pre-history of psychoanalysis, including sexology, autobiography, fiction, hypnosis, biology, neurology, etc.
  • Histories of trans psychoanalysis in the present




Submission Details and Deadlines:

Please submit 300-500 word abstracts and a CV to by Oct 1 2024.

Invitations to submit full articles will be sent November 1 2024.

Manuscripts due June 1 2025.

Publication 2026