Trapped in change

Using queer theory to examine the progress of psy-theories and interventions with sexuality and gender

Authored by: Shaindl Diamond

Routledge International Handbook of Critical Mental Health

Print publication date:  September  2017
Online publication date:  September  2017

Print ISBN: 9781138225473
eBook ISBN: 9781315399584
Adobe ISBN:


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The most common narrative about the status of sexual and gender minorities in the psy- disciplines is one of progress, and understandably so. Major changes have occurred over the past century in terms of theoretical understandings of and interventions with queer and trans people that have arguably created a better situation for many. This chapter will provide an overview of some of the changes that have occurred and examine current conceptualisations and treatment of queer and trans people. Using a queer theory lens, it will attempt to more deeply probe this progress to see what it has done to the self-determination of trans and queer people and what impact it has had on underlying binaries that historically have led to heteronormative understandings of sexuality and gender. It will look at the impact of psychiatry and related disciplines, which have been made custodians to the pathway of support for many living outside dominant gender norms, and will conclude by reflecting on implications for practitioners who work with queer and trans persons who seek support in coping with emotional distress, often generated by living outside of dominant gender norms. The analysis offered in this chapter builds on the important works of feminist, queer, trans, mad, disability, antipsychiatry and anti-racist activists and scholars who have likewise critiqued dominant progress narratives about the psy-complex (Burstow and LeFrançois 2014; Diamond 2014; Kirby 2014).

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