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Becker-Dunn, E. (2015). Epilogue: Category/Gender: Subject to Change. Psychoanal. Inq., 35(8):837-839.

(2015). Psychoanalytic Inquiry, 35(8):837-839


Epilogue: Category/Gender: Subject to Change

Eileen Becker-Dunn, LCSW

From the moment we are born, we are assigned sex and gender. Pink persists as the color of choice for infant girls and blue for newborn boys. Marketing efforts target little girls with dolls and play kitchens; trucks, trains, and guns are aimed at little boys. College and employment applications and online customer satisfaction questionnaires require us to check the box for male or female. All this happens without conscious questioning. How did we know which bathroom to use as young children? Growing up, how did we know our sex or gender? Is the sex/gender binary of female and male, a social construction or a natural fact? In spite of the contributions of postmodern scholars and some relational psychoanalysts, many psychoanalysts still believe in the orderly linear development of binary gender identity. This issue of Psychoanalytic Inquiry raises questions, many questions, and, if the authors have done their jobs well, we will not come to conclusions. Ironically, the need to be sure has created problems for psychoanalysis in its treatment of people who have variant expressions and experiences of gender, sexuality and sexual orientation.

In the film XXY, Puenzo (2007) evokes a hyperaware limbo in which the viewer scrutinizes all of the characters’ masculine and feminine qualities; in this issue Corbatta uses the film to explore how gender and sexual identities are created. Watching the film, we scan Alex’s body ever more aware of what we are not seeing—and wish to.

[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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