UPDATE – Attacks on Thinking in the Age of LGBTQWIIAP+

UPDATE: We have had to postpone “Attacks on Thinking in The Age of LBGTQWIIAP+” due to the possibility of disruption at the event – from those who perhaps believed (quite wrongly) that the event would be an attack on their own thinking. The main purpose of the event was to explore this very dynamic. We intend to hold a similar event in the new year, for it is precisely to promote understanding of such societal dynamics that OPUS was founded 40 years ago.

Sandy Henderson, OPUS Director

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Led by: Anne-Marie Cummins and Bob Withers

The recent proliferation of sexual identities signals that we have reached a ‘transgender tipping point’: the entry into mainstream culture of multiple sexual identities organised around some notion of gender fluidity, intersexuality or transsexuality. But while things are being opened up they also seem to be closing down. The celebration of the rainbow and medical advances has a disturbing underbelly that is becoming increasingly apparent to academics and psychotherapists.

Researchers have been attacked viciously for raising legitimate questions, such as the feminist philosopher Rachel Tuval for suggesting that there are similarities between transracialism and trans-sexuality. At the same time psychological thinking about individual trans-peoples’ experiences is seen as increasingly unwelcome by trans-activists in a culture that still stigmatises mental illness but affirms the medicalisation of trans-phenomena. People are being shepherded into hormonal and surgical treatment while research into the growing number of those dissatisfied with its results is lobbied to be closed down.

Has the social unconscious been ‘queered’? If there is something going on in the wider social matrix about the refusal of hard gender differences, what might this be about? And what are the consequences for us as a society and the individuals concerned?

Anne-Marie Cummins is a Senior Lecturer in Sociology at the University of the West of England and a Trainee Group Analyst. Her research interests include the dynamics of helping relationships, the relationship between social science and psychodynamic models and the application of this to real-world professional dilemmas. She also has a practice-based background including training in counselling and psychoanalytic psychotherapy and has worked as a member of staff, nationally and internationally on Group Relations Conferences.

Bob Withers is an analytical psychotherapist with an interest in the difficulties involved in working psychotherapeutically with people who identify as trans. He qualified from the Society of Analytical Psychology, has lectured both internationally and in the UK on M.Sc programmes, taught on several counselling and psychotherapy courses and has many years experience as a clinical supervisor. He also compiled, edited and contributed to the book ‘Controversies in Analytical Psychology’.