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Ekins, R. (2001). Responses to Colette Chiland's ‘The Psychoanalyst and the Transsexual Patient’. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 82(2):389.

(2001). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 82(2):389

Responses to Colette Chiland's ‘The Psychoanalyst and the Transsexual Patient’

Richard Ekins

Dear Sir,

Transsexual people often claim that they know more about their ‘condition’ than those who treat them. Psychoanalysts often claim that their peer-reviewed journals are as scholarly as those in other fields. The opening sentence in Chiland's article is unfortunate on both counts.

Chiland writes: ‘According to Harry Benjamin (1953, 1966), who coined the term ‘trans-sexualism’ for the syndrome in 1953, psychotherapy and psychoanalysis can do nothing for transsexuals’ (2000, p. 21). This statement is potentially misleading. Cauldwell is frequently attributed with being the first person to use the term transsexual (actually ‘transexual’ [1949, p. 275]) ‘in line with today's meaning’) (King, 1996, p. 86; see also Billings & Urban, 1996, p. 115). In point of fact, Hirschfeld first mentioned the term ‘seelischer Transsexualismus’ [psychic transsexualism] (1923, p. 14), thus identifying the clinical category later developed by Benjamin. I am grateful to Friedemann Pfäfflin for locating and providing me with an English translation of the relevant passage in Hirschfeld referred to in his 1997 article.

These facts do not, of course, diminish Benjamin's contribution to the field of transgenderism. In particular, contemporary western transsexuals are as much the product of Harry Benjamin as contemporary psychoanalysts are the product of Sigmund Freud.

Yours sincerely
Richard Ekins
Transgender Research Unit and Archive
University of Ulster at Coleraine County Londonderry BT 52 1SA rjm.

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