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Saketopoulou, A. (2011). Minding the Gap: Intersections Between Gender, Race, and Class in Work With Gender Variant Children. Psychoanal. Dial., 21(2):192-209.

(2011). Psychoanalytic Dialogues, 21(2):192-209

Minding the Gap: Intersections Between Gender, Race, and Class in Work With Gender Variant Children

Avgi Saketopoulou, Psy.D.

Analytic work with non-normative patients has received little attention outside of clinical narratives that conflate atypicality with psychopathology. The reflective space that non-normativity deserves is further foreclosed when it co-occurs with pain that reaches clinical levels. In those instances, thinking about unconventional experience gets caught in the gravitational field of coexisting illness. In this paper I adopt an interdisciplinary perspective, engaging the work of those relationalists who speak from the interstices of clinical psychoanalysis and cultural forces (Corbett, Dimen, Goldner, Harris), together with post-colonial race theory, academic scholarship on gender, and queer activist writing to discuss my work with DeShawn, a seriously ill, genderfluid inpatient biological boy. Theorizing gender as a category of experience that can be appropriated towards multiple psychic ends, I focus on the role that race and class have played in his gender's constitution, proposing that adopting an intersectional approach in thinking of how one identity category can inflate others can help us navigate the space between pathology and difference. I detail DeShawn's daily life and treatment in an inpatient unit, tracking familial, racial, and class trauma as I follow the progression of his therapy over the course of 3 years, noting important lessons learned on how race presses on gender, how class inflects masculine femininities, and how embodiment can offer itself as a site for trauma's elaborations. Opening up the space to think up more questions, DeShawn's complex subjectivity compels us to wonder what is the psychic work that is asked of gender (normative and not) and reflect on its porosity to other identity categories.

[This is a summary excerpt from the full text of the journal article. The full text of the document is available to journal subscribers on the publisher's website here.]

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