Historically, this is a pivotal time for psychoanalysis to re-tool itself to offer both comprehension and best care of children and youth who transgress our normative gender structures, either by declaring that they are not the gender everyone thinks they are or not amenable to performing their gender within the socially prescribed norms for their assigned gender, or perhaps both. Calling on Winnicott’s constructs of personality development, psychoanalytic concepts of mirroring, and transactional developmental theory, Dr. Ehrensaft will present her model for promoting gender health among gender-nonconforming children and youth. Using clinical examples from her work with children and their parents, she will talk about her concept of the gender web and the treatment model she and others are developing, known as the gender affirmative model. Regarding these children and families, psychoanalysis has shown itself to be both the best and the worst of worlds, and we will open up a discussion of myths, mystifications, and countertransference conundrums fruitful to examine in the context of a social world that has morphed gender from a position of bedrock to a dynamic flux of moving boulders.
- Apply an understanding of the interface of nature, nurture, and culture in the evolution of a child’s gender self to clinical treatment
- Differentiate gender nonconformity as a core issue of self from gender dysphoria as a symptom of some other underlying psychological issues.
- Develop clinical tools for translation of communications from children about their gender selves, including a developmental template that sorts gender expressions from gender identity from sexual orientation.
Diane Ehrensaft is the Director of Mental Health and founding member of the Child and Adolescent Gender Center and a clinical psychologist in the San Francisco Bay Area. Her research and writing focus on the areas of child development, gender, parenting, parent-child relationships, and psychological issues for families using assisted reproductive technology. She has published several books and articles in these areas and lectures and makes media appearances nationally and internationally on these topics. She has a clinical practice in Oakland, California.