Special Issue: Histories of psychology after Stonewall

A special issue of the American Psychologist dedicated to “Histories of psychology after Stonewall” is now online. The issue is guest-edited by Peter Hegarty and Alexandra Rutherford. Full details below.

“Histories of psychology after Stonewall: Introduction to the special issue,” by Hegarty, Peter; Rutherford, Alexandra. Abstract:

This article introduces the special issue Fifty Years Since Stonewall: The Science and Politics of Sexual Orientation and Gender Diversity. Here, the commemoration of the 1969 Stonewall uprising frames our discussion of issues of representation that arise in commemorating events in general, and events in the history of psychology in particular. We describe how the articles in the special issue expand the existing narratives about the history of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender psychology that are centered in the United States, focused primarily on sexual orientation and often end, rather than begin, in the time of Stonewall. The international scope of the special issue can suggest new ways to particularize histories of psychology since Stonewall that are centered on the United States. We describe the ideological context that shapes the doing of psychology since Stonewall, the telling of the histories of that psychology, and how “the problem of speaking for others” arises in contexts of power, including the curation of the special issue itself.

“Clinical activism in community-based practice: The case of LGBT affirmative care at the Eromin Center, Philadelphia, 1973–1984,” by Byers, David S.; Vider, Stephen; Smith, Amelia. Abstract:

The Eromin Center was founded in Philadelphia in 1973, aiming to provide lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) affirmative mental health treatment 6 months before the American Psychiatric Association voted to remove homosexuality from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM–II; American Psychiatric Association, 1968). This study of archival records and oral histories with Eromin Center staff and volunteers reveals an iterative and improvisational approach to community-based affirmative care. Rather than waiting for national leadership or institutional change, they aimed to respond directly to otherwise unrecognized needs of LGBT people through psychotherapy and social services—what we are calling clinical activism. Without training or guidance from research, they tended to base their work on their own experiences, an approach with inherent limitations in particular because most of the staff were White, cisgender, and identified as gay and lesbian. They attempted to address these limitations until Eromin’s closing in 1984. Largely overshadowed by the broader policy changes in mental health care, Eromin’s work provides a crucial case study in community-based clinical activism and affirmative practice with continuing salience today.

“From conversion toward affirmation: Psychology, civil rights, and experiences of gender-diverse communities in Memphis,” by Hipp, Tracy N.; Gore, Kayla R.; Toumayan, Amanda C.; Anderson, Mollie B.; Thurston, Idia B. Abstract:

Conversion efforts constitute any attempt to align an individual’s behavior or identity with cisgender and heterosexual norms. The majority of empirical literature on conversion efforts focuses on the experiences of White cisgender gay men. Drawing on a review of the literature, archives, and interviews with local community leaders and stakeholders, this article highlights a broader set of conversion strategies targeted toward Black transgender individuals in Memphis, a community at the heart of the civil rights movement. In addition to the role of ex-gay ministries like Love In Action, this investigation produced themes highlighting the roles of Christian organizations promulgating “church hurt,” structural violence, and gatekeeping to access affirmative care as forms of conversion. We further describe how lack of inclusion within the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer community, in terms of race, class, and gender identity, has resulted in unequal support for Black transgender individuals and the obscuring of the central role that many transgender individuals, especially those with intersectional marginalized identities, have played in social justice movements. We end with ideas for moving toward affirmation and liberation.

“Content analysis of psychological research with lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people of color in the United States: 1969–2018,” by Barnett, Andrew P.; del Río-González, Ana María; Parchem, Benjamin; Pinho, Veronica; Aguayo-Romero, Rodrigo; Nakamura, Nadine; Calabrese, Sarah K.; Poppen, Paul J.; Zea, Maria Cecilia. Abstract:

This article updates previous content analyses that identified a relative paucity of U.S.-based psychological research on lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people of color by extending the period covered to 2018. In addition to documenting how many such studies occurred and when, it considers the research questions asked, funding sources, impact, and journal outlets. This richer description of this research area allowed us to describe historically not only when LGBT people of color in the United States were studied but why they were studied, which journals published this work, and which published studies were most influential. We found that the literature starts in 1988 for LGB people of color and in 2009 for transgender people of color and that a significant shift occurred in 2009, with the majority of the articles being published in the last 10 years. Findings suggest that U.S. federal funding and support for LGBT research as well as divisions of the American Psychological Association focused on minoritized identities and their journals played a role in the recent increase. Half of the studies investigated psychological symptoms, and more than a third of studied experiences and psychological processes related to holding multiple minority statuses, many of which focused on potentially deleterious aspects of these identities. These findings indicate that this literature has a significant focus on pathology. Underrepresented groups included cisgender and transgender women; transgender men; older individuals; Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders; American Indians and Alaska Natives; and multiracial individuals.

“Transnormativity in the psy disciplines: Constructing pathology in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders and Standards of Care,” by Riggs, Damien W.; Pearce, Ruth; Pfeffer, Carla A.; Hines, Sally; White, Francis; Ruspini, Elisabetta. Abstract:

The psy disciplines (i.e., psychiatry, psychology, psychoanalysis, and psychotherapy) have played a significant role in shaping understandings of transgender people’s lives in ways that are transnormative (i.e., by emphasizing one particular account of what it means to be transgender). This article documents (a) how the rise of the psy disciplines created opportunities for transgender people to access treatment (but that such access often required tacit acceptance of transnormativity), and (b) how transgender people have resisted transnormative accounts within the psy disciplines. More specifically, this article explores how both the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, and what is now the World Professional Association for Transgender Health’s Standards of Care, have often enshrined highly regulatory accounts of transgender people’s lives, while also changing over time, in part as a result of the contributions of transgender people. The article concludes by considering recent contributions by transgender people in terms of the use of informed consent models of care and clinical research, and highlights the ongoing marginalization of transgender people in terms of access to ethical, transcompetent care.

“Homosexuality and psychiatry in state-socialist Hungary: Representing women’s same-sex desire in the psychomedical literature,” by Borgos, Anna. Abstract:

This study explores representations of homosexuality in the psychiatric and sexology literature between the 1960s and the 1980s in Hungary with special attention to women. The literature is indicative of how psy sciences interacted with the system of norms on gender and sexual orientation embedded within the social and political context of the era. Examination of these sources shows a predominantly pathologizing-normative discursive framework deployed by experts. The fundamental therapeutic aim was to achieve good social adaptation. In this process, psy experts were influential representatives of the heteronormative society, reinforcing gender norms and state-socialist family ideals. Within the psychological discourses on homosexuality, the case of women had some special characteristics. Their sexual choices were represented as more alterable than men’s and linked to emotional factors in the first place. In women’s case, there was usually no “need” for therapeutic conversion because socially prescribed gender norms worked strongly enough and the lack of sexual pleasure with men was not considered a significant problem. Professional and popular psychiatric and sexology literature on homosexuality indicate that whereas for men, transgressing normative (hetero)sexuality was the stronger taboo, for women, it was the unfulfilled order of marriage and motherhood that was considered the most serious deviance, and lesbian relationships had to be prevented for this reason.

“Sexual offence, diagnosis, and activism: A British history of LGBTIQ psychology,” by Hubbard, Katherine Anne; Griffiths, David Andrew. Abstract:

This article charts the historical period from the 1950s to the 1990s, focusing on the role of Psychology in the lives of lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, intersex and queer (LGBTIQ) people in Britain. Psychology has been, and is, central to the social, legal, and medical understandings of biological sex and how best to understand diversity in gender and sexuality. Likewise, gay liberation and liberationist politics also had an effect on Psychology. For the 1950s to 1960s, we outline how psychologists influenced the law in relation to the Wolfenden Report (1957) and how expertise was centrally located within the ‘psy’ disciplines. Following this, in the 1960s to 1970s, activists began to challenge this expertise and became increasingly critical of pathologization and of ‘treatments’ for homosexuality. They did not reject Psychology wholesale, however, and some groups engaged with queer affirmative psychologists who had similar liberatory aims. Finally, for the 1980s to 1998, we highlight the establishment of the Lesbian and Gay Section of the British Psychological Society, which signaled institutional recognition of lesbian and gay psychologists. This is explored against a backdrop of a specific British history of HIV/AIDS and Section 28. The past 50 years have been a battleground of categories in which LGBTIQ people were conflated, compared, and confused. We demonstrate that psychologists (not all of whom adopted a pathologizing perspective), alongside politicians, lawyers, doctors, journalists, and activists, all played a role in the boundary-making practices of this period. Across this entangled history, we demonstrate varied and significant shifts in the legitimacy of professional and personal expertise.

“Queering the history of South African psychology: From apartheid to LGBTI+ affirmative practices,” by Pillay, Suntosh R.; Nel, Juan A.; McLachlan, Chris/tine; Victor, Cornelius J. Abstract:

This article constructs a brief history of how lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) issues have intersected with South African psychology at key sociopolitical moments, filling a gap in current histories. Organized psychology—a primary focus of this analysis—since its first formations in 1948, mostly colluded with apartheid governments by othering queerness as psychopathology or social deviance. The National Party, both homophobic and racist, ruled the country from 1948 until the first democratic elections in 1994. The acceleration of antiapartheid struggles in the 1980s saw progressive psychologists develop more critical forms of theory and practice. However, LGBTI+ issues remained overshadowed by the primary struggle for racial equality and democracy. Psychology’s chameleon-like adaptation to evolving eras resulted in a unified organization when apartheid ended: the Psychological Society of South Africa (PsySSA). Democratic South Africa’s Constitution took the bold step of protecting sexuality as a fundamental human right, galvanizing a fresh wave of LGBTI+ scholarship post-1994. However, LGBTI+ people still suffered prejudice, discrimination, and violence. Additionally, psychology training continued to ignore sexual orientation and gender-affirmative health care in curricula. PsySSA therefore joined the International Psychology Network for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex Issues (IPsyNet) in 2007, catalyzing the PsySSA African LGBTI+ Human Rights Project in 2012 and two pioneering publications: a position statement on affirmative practice in 2013, and practice guidelines for psychology professionals working with sexually and gender-diverse people in 2017. This article traces a neglected history of South African psychology, examining the political, social, and institutional factors that eventually enabled the development of LGBTI+ affirmative psychologies.

“Emergence of a transnational LGBTI psychology: Commonalities and challenges in advocacy and activism,” by Horne, Sharon G.; Maroney, Meredith R.; Nel, Juan A.; Chaparro, Reynel A.; Manalastas, Eric Julian. Abstract:

This contribution explores the historical developments of transnational lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex (LGBTI) psychology in Colombia, the Philippines, Russia, and South Africa in relationship to U.S. LGBT psychology. LGBTI psychology in these diverse contexts share commonalities but also have important variations in their development and focus within LGBTI concerns. The International Psychology Network for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex Issues (IPsyNet) provides a model for international professional psychology collaboration and linkage on behalf of advocacy for LGBTI rights and sexual orientation and gender identity and/or expression concerns. Although there is the risk of transnational LGBTI psychology(ies) reproducing European-North American (Euro-N.A.) “homonationalism” and contributing to neo-colonization, these case examples illustrate the dynamic potential of transnational LGBTI psychology, including the possibilities of psychology to develop LGBTI psychologies drawing from indigenous as well as international structures and platforms, influencing Euro-N.A. models in the process. Finally, this article describes the promise and the limitations of transnational LGBTI psychology, including the role of human rights frameworks, as well as advocacy within professional psychology.

About Jacy Young

Jacy Young is a professor at Quest University Canada. A critical feminist psychologist and historian of psychology, she is committed to critical pedagogy and public engagement with feminist psychology and the history of the discipline.

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