Stranger in My Own Body:

Atypical Gender Identity Development and Mental Health.

Edited by Domenico Di Ceglie with David Freedman

Book Review by Dr Tracie O'Keefe DCHA

Karnac books: £24.95



Issue 6
May 1999

It is hard to determine for whom this book was put together since it is a collection of academic papers by professionals who attended a conference at the Tavistock Clinic in London 1996. It is unfortunately poorly edited, much of the research is incomplete, selective and at times unethical. There are some good and clever papers but they are overshadowed by the overall confused presentation.

Some of the psychoanalytical reporting of work with clients amounted to little more than abuse rather than treatment, people staying in therapy much too long, being charged far too much. Harry Benjamin made his findings quite clear, all those years ago, psychoanalysis is to Gender Dysphoria what aspirin is to baldness.

It is surprising to find that John Money wrote the forword, after all he wrote Destroying Angel, a profound book demythologising American sexual oppression. This book however pays virtually no attention to sociocultural interpretation of sex, gender and sexuality stereotyping. If I were a young professional starting out in the field of gender medicine and reading it, all I would understand is that these poor unfortunate, pathologised subjects needed desperate treatment for their terrible afflictions. It is, at times, no less than misleading to any professional in the health field and insulting to me as a member of the GBLT community. There is not a single word about the many contributions people with atypical gender identity make to society or their achievements, nor their fight for equality.

Much of the scientific work is based on quantitative data that is all to often carried out by people who have little knowledge of philosophical approaches to sex, gender or sexuality diversity. I suspect many of the authors have never been to a trannifest, intersex show and tell,or an Androgyn "toss the coin and choose the gender" meeting. Medicine without humour is dictatorial and moralist, leaving a patient feeling helpless and overdependent on fat grey books. Most of all the subtitle of this book is misleading as it is not about development and mental health but about pathology and the accommodating medical model.

Dr.Tracie O'Keefe DCH is a clincal hypnotherapist, psychotherapist and counsellor at the London Medical Centre in Harley Street. She is the co-author of the book, Trans-X-U-All: The Naked Difference (Extraordinary People Press, ISBN 0 9529482 06, 1997)

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