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Losty, M. O’Connor, J. (2018). Falling outside of the ‘nice little binary box’: a psychoanalytic exploration of the non-binary gender identity. Psychoanal. Psychother., 32(1):40-60.

(2018). Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy, 32(1):40-60

Falling outside of the ‘nice little binary box’: a psychoanalytic exploration of the non-binary gender identity

Mairéad Losty and John O’Connor

The non-binary gender identity has recently emerged on the landscape of gender variance. It captures individuals who may experience a gender identity that is neither exclusively male nor female, is a combination of male and female or is between or beyond genders. The availability of literature exploring the non-binary gender experience is somewhat limited. Consequently, our understanding of the development of ‘self’ amongst such individuals seems to lag behind that of other gender variant identity, in particular the binary transgender identity. A psychoanalytically informed qualitative research design was used to explore the psychological realities of 6 individuals, aged between 19 and 29 years, who identified as gender fluid, genderqueer, polygender, non-binary Trans person, non-binary trans guy and non-binary gender. Analysis focused upon the integration of conscious and unconscious material in order to provide some insight into the participants’ internal world and object-relating. Three core themes emerged from the data: ‘A developing gender identity’, ‘Correct and incorrect language’ and ‘Being seen and unseen’. These themes, as well as the heterogeneity and complexity of non-binary gender identity, are explored within the discussion, with some implications around our clinical and wider cultural response to people who identify themselves in this way.

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