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432 pages, Hardcover
First published May 6, 2021
Applied to gender identity, then, an identification model says that to have a misaligned female gender identity is to identify strongly, in this psychological sense, either with a particular female or with femaleness as a general object or ideal. (You might also say ‘identify with womanhood’ but I’m leaving womanhood aside for now.) To have a misaligned male identity is to identify either with a particular male or with a general object or ideal of maleness (or manhood). And to have a misaligned non-binary identity is to identify either with a particular androgynous person or with a general ideal of androgyny. Strong identification will often involve dysphoria, understood as an aversive emotional response to perceptions of one’s own sexed body and to its difference with the body one longs to see.
High theory is abstract, totalising, seductively dramatic in its conclusions, and relatively insulated from any directly observable empirical consequences – which, of course, makes it harder to dislodge.
For these sorts of reasons, in my view there are no circumstances in which minors should be making fertility-and health-affecting decisions involving blockers, hormones or surgery, as is now happening in many countries. No period of therapy prior to the age of majority could be long enough to untangle all these possibly contributory strands.
...In light of all this, the current professional prohibition of ‘conversion therapy’ – i.e. prohibition of anything other than affirmative approaches to gender identity from medics and psychologists – looks profoundly misguided. What this obviously ignores is that a therapist’s refusing to automatically ‘affirm’ a teenager’s gender identity, but rather sensitively exploring her feelings with her instead, may open up space for the patient’s acceptance of her own homosexuality.