Tag Archives: academia

Introducing the Sexuality Speaker Series

I am very excited to be collaborating with Michael Aaron on another groundbreaking project in service of alternative sexuality communities!  The inaugural 2016-2017 season will tackle issues including: harm reduction for compulsive sexual behavior; the ameliorating aspects of pain within a BDSM context; therapeutic use of psychedelics such as ibogaine in the treatment of sexual trauma; queer masculinities; men having sex with men (MSM); and evolving sexuality during gender transition. More info on SSS and the 2nd annual AltSex NYC Conference in the update below!

 

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Hello friends, colleagues, and community!

The creators of the AltSex NYC Conference are pleased to introduce the Sexuality Speakers Series (SSS), a New York City arena for clinical and educational discussion on cutting-edge sexuality topics rarely discussed elsewhere and that few others are willing to tackle. Each monthly 90-minute talk has been approved by New York State Education Department’s State Board for Social Work and AASECT for 1.5 continuing education credits. The 2016-2017 season begins on September 20, 2016, and tickets for the entire season are on sale now. Seating is very limited and likely to sell out, so click here to register sooner than later for the talks you absolutely don’t want to miss. 

Also, save the date for the 2nd annual AltSex NYC Conference on Friday, April 28, 2017, and stay tuned for a call for proposals beginning on July 1 with a deadline of September 16, 2016! 

Cheers,

Michael Aaron, PhD and Dulcinea Pitagora, MA, LMSW

SexualitySpeakerSeries.org
AltSexNYCconference.org

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1st Annual AltSex NYC Conference 2016—10 Days Left for Regular Registration

Hello Friends, Colleagues, and Community!

I couldn’t be more excited to be involved in organizing and producing the 1st Annual AltSex NYC Conference on April 22, 2016 alongside Dr. Michael Aaron. Please see the stellar line up of speakers below, and note that the best time to buy tickets is now, before regular registration ends and prices go up on April 1.

Please also note that the conference has officially been approved by New York State for 6.5 social work continuing education credits, and also by AASECT for 6.5 continuing education credits.

If you have obligations that will keep you from attending the conference in person, you can attend remotely via live streaming, which is also eligible for continuing education credits.

Cheers,

Dulcinea

1st Annual AltSex NYC Conference

Friday, April 22, 2016
8:15am – 5:15pm

Midtown Manhattan
CEs available*

Introducing the 1st Annual AltSex NYC Conference—where clinicians, academics, and alt lifestyle community members will come together for a full day of sex-positive, alternative lifestyle affirmative, cutting edge research-based,  and current practice-informed seminars and discussions presented by a stellar collection of New York City educators and mental health providers.   

LIVE STREAMING (WITH CE’S) IS AVAILABLE FOR REMOTE ATTENDEES! 

8:15AM — Welcome Address

8:30AM — Keynote Address by Margaret Nichols, PhD
“Kink is Good: BDSM in the Context of New Models of Sex and Gender Variance”

10:05AM — Zhana Vrangalova, PhD
“Myths and Realities of Consensual Non-Monogamy”

11:05AM — Dulcinea Pitagora, MA, LMSW and Michael Aaron, PhD
“The Kink-Poly Confluence: Community Intersections and Clinical Approaches”

12:05PM — Lunch Break

1:20PM — Michael Aaron, PhD
“Facing Your Shadow: The Healing Potential of Psychological Edge Play”

2:20PM — Rosalyn Dischiavo, EdD, CSES
“Metamorphosis: Braving Transitions in Polyamorous Relationships”

3:30PM — David Ortmann, LCSW
“Age Play: Eros, Practicality, and Walking the Edge”

4:30PM — Panel Discussion & Final Words (optional)

produced by
Michael Aaron, PhD and Dulcinea Pitagora, MA, LMSW

*PROGRAM APPROVED: The AltSexNYC Conference has been approved by the New York State Education Department’s State Board for Social Work as a continuing education provider (# 0314) for licensed social workers. 

*PROGRAM APPROVED:  This program meets the requirements of the American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors and Therapists (AASECT) and is approved for 6.5 AASECT CE Credits. These CE Credits may be applied toward AASECT certification and renewal of certification.

A portion of the AltSex NYC Conference proceeds will be donated to the Community-Academic Consortium for Research on Alternative Sexualities (CARAS) in appreciation of their continued dedication to supporting and promoting excellence in the study of alternative sexualities. 

For more information, visit AltSexNYCconference.org.

Midtown Manhattan

New York, NY
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NOTE: The content of this blog is owned by Dulcinea Pitagora. See Terms and Conditions for republishing restrictions/allowances.

Early Registration Opens for the 1st Annual AltSex NYC Conference!

EARLY REGISTRATION IS OPEN! REMOTE STREAMING IS AVAILABLE!

AltSex NYC Conference

Friday, April 22, 2016
8:15am – 5:15pm

Midtown Manhattan
CEs available*

Introducing the 1st Annual AltSex NYC Conference—where clinicians, academics, and alt lifestyle community members will come together for a full day of sex-positive, alternative lifestyle affirmative, cutting edge research-based,  and current practice-informed seminars and discussions presented by a stellar collection of New York City educators and mental health providers.

EARLY REGISTRATION INCLUDES DISCOUNTED TICKETS
FOR STUDENTS, PROFESSIONALS, AND COMMUNITY MEMBERS.
LIVE STREAMING IS ALSO AVAILABLE FOR REMOTE ATTENDEES!

Speakers and Session Schedule:

8:15AM — Welcome Address

8:30AM — Keynote Address by Margaret Nichols, PhD
“Kink is Good: BDSM in the Context of New Models of Sex and Gender Variance”

10:05AM — Zhana Vrangalova, PhD
“Myths and Realities of Consensual Non-Monogamy”

11:05AM — Dulcinea Pitagora, MA, LMSW and Michael Aaron, PhD
“The Kink-Poly Confluence: Community Intersections and Clinical Approaches”

12:05PM — Lunch Break

1:20PM — Michael Aaron, PhD
“Facing Your Shadow: The Healing Potential of Psychological Edge Play” 

2:20PM — Rosalyn Dischiavo, PhD
“Metamorphosis: Braving Transitions in Polyamorous Relationships” 

3:30PM — David Ortmann, LCSW
“Age Play: Eros, Practicality, and Walking the Edge”

4:30PM — Panel Discussion & Final Words (optional)

 

produced by
Michael Aaron, PhD and Dulcinea Pitagora, MA, LMSW

A portion of the AltSex NYC Conference proceeds will be donated to the Community-Academic Consortium for Research on Alternative Sexualities (CARAS) in appreciation of their continued dedication to supporting and promoting excellence in the study of alternative sexualities.

*The AltSexNYC Conference is currently being reviewed by AASECT as an approved provider of continuing education for certified sex therapists, and the New York State Education Department’s State Board for Social Work as an approved provider of continuing education for licensed social workers.

For more information or to register for the conference, visit AltSexNYCconference.org.

NOTE: The content of this blog is owned by Dulcinea Pitagora. See Terms and Conditions for republishing restrictions/allowances.

Cross-post: Thinking Globally about Sex and Gender

A couple of years ago I discovered a document called the Yogyakarta Principles on the Application of International Human Rights Law in relation to Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity, created in 2006 in Yogyakarta, Indonesia by the International Commission of Jurists and the International Service for Human Rights, on behalf of a coalition of human rights organizations in reaction to egregious international human rights violations pertaining to individuals marginalized for their sexual orientation and/or gender identifications.

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The introduction to the Yogyakarta Principles begins with…

“All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. all human rights are universal, interdependent, indivisible and interrelated. sexual orientation1) and gender identity2) are integral to every person’s dignity and humanity and must not be the basis for discrimination or abuse” (p. 6).

…and ends with…

“The Yogyakarta Principles affirm binding international legal standards with which all states must comply. they promise a different future where all people born free and equal in dignity and rights can fulfill that precious birthright” (p. 7).

I’m an advocate for every clinician and educator’s (and every human, really) reading this document in its entirety, which is why I decided to post this on the ManhattanAlternative.com blog, and is why I’m cross-posting it here as well. Though the abridged principles listed as follows can be interpreted differently depending on context and experience, thinking critically about them as they stand here is a useful exercise in itself:

  1. The right to the universal enjoyment of human rights.
  2. The rights to equality and non-discrimination.
  3. The right to recognition before the law.
  4. The right to life.
  5. The right to security of the person.
  6. The right to privacy.
  7. The right to freedom of arbitrary deprivation of liberty.
  8. The right to a fair trial.
  9. The right to treatment with humanity while in detention.
  10. The right to freedom from torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.
  11. The right to protection from all forms of exploitation, sale and trafficking of human beings.
  12. The right to work.
  13. The right to social security and to other social protection measures.
  14. The right to an adequate standard of living.
  15. The right to adequate housing.
  16. The right to education.
  17. The right to the highest attainable standard of health.
  18. Protection from medical abuses.
  19. The right to freedom of opinion and expression.
  20. The right to freedom of peaceful assembly and association.
  21. The right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion.
  22. The right to freedom of movement.
  23. The right to seek asylum.
  24. The right to found a family.
  25. The right to participate in public life.
  26. The right to participate in cultural life.
  27. The right to promote human rights.
  28. The right to effective remedies and redress.
  29. Accountability.

Some interesting questions to ponder:

Which of the above principles most affect you on a regular basis?

Which have you fought for in terms of your personal experience?

Which might you have taken for granted?

NOTE: The content of this blog is owned by Dulcinea Pitagora. See Terms and Conditions for republishing restrictions/allowances.

Kinkademia

Today feels like a good day to pay homage to a book that is the best collection of academic research and community-based literature on BDSM that I’ve read: Safe, Sane and Consensual: Contemporary Perspectives on Sadomasochism, edited by Dr. Darren Langdridge and Dr. Meg Barker (2008). The following excerpts have acted as a source of motivation for my own academic research into the psychological and interpersonal landscapes of BDSM.  These quotes are all from Part I: Introducing Sadomasochism, and I highly recommend reading the text in context, as well as all of the parts that follow—Theorising Pain and InjuryEmpirical ResearchTherapeutic Pespectives, and Bridging the Academic/Activist Divide.

“Most of the stories which reach beyond communities to the outside world are watered down, ‘mainstreamed,’ and deeply de-sexualised—often focused on an SM aesthetic rather than anyone involved in SM would identify as something they do” (Situating Sadomasochism, Darren Langdridge and Meg Barker, p. 4).

“Consent is a particularly problematic concept, that has been troubled in an important way by feminist scholarship” (Situating Sadomasochism, Darren Langdridge and Meg Barker, p. 4).

“The voice of the radical feminist drowns out the voice of the woman SMer” (Situating Sadomasochism, Darren Langdridge and Meg Barker, p. 5).

“The overwhelming whiteness of writing on SM is something that deeply troubles us. [There is] a lack of writing on race, ethnicity, trans, disability…” (Situating Sadomasochism, Darren Langdridge and Meg Barker, p. 6).

“This paper defines S/M as a broad range of consensual, erotic, interpersonal interactions involving the administration and reception of pain and/or the enactment of dominant and submissive power dynamics. Historical evidence suggests that behaviours imitative of those we contemporarily identify as S/M have occurred for millennia” (The Cultural Formation of S/M: History and Analysis, Kathy Sisson, p. 12).

“Up until the 1940s, no clear distinction between sexual orientation and S/M practice appears in the literature. A distinct gay male leather community developed in the USA in the 1940s…distinct heterosexual and lesbian S/M communities emerged in the 1970s. Due in large part to the viturperous feminist sex wars during the second wave of feminism, a considerable literature on lesbian S/M communities exists as well. I suggest that these three distinct S/M communities, gay, lesbian and heterosexual, co-exist today as part of the larger S/M sexual culture. However, a paucity of data exists regarding the development and characteristics of heterosexual S/M communities and culture” (The Cultural Formation of S/M: History and Analysis, Kathy Sisson, p. 13).

“Psychopathia Sexualis (1886) also popularized the binary sexual identity schema based on gender or sex of object choice – homosexual or heterosexual” (The Cultural Formation of S/M: History and Analysis, Kathy Sisson, p. 15).

“Gosselin, Wilson and Barrett administered the Eysenck Personality Questionnaire to 57 S/M-identified women and found that, although the women showed ‘high psychoticism, low neuroticism and high libido traditionally associated with a stereotypic “male” image…this is not to say that the behavior of S/M women should be regarded as pathological…’” (The Cultural Formation of S/M: History and Analysis, Kathy Sisson, p. 24).

“Echoing the removal of homosexuality from the DSM in 1973, researchers, clinicians and activists are beginning to challenge the DSM diagnosis of sadism and masochism” (The Cultural Formation of S/M: History and Analysis, Kathy Sisson, p. 25).

“Masochistic interactions would provide ‘a temporary and powerful escape from high-level awareness of self as an abstract, temporally extended, symbolically constructed identity, to a low-level, temporally constricted awareness of self as physical body, focusing on immediate sensations (both painful and pleasant) and on being a sexual object.’ By temporarily adopting a masochistic identity, individuals could escape the ‘burden of selfhood’ and achieve respite from the demands of modern society.” (The Cultural Formation of S/M: History and Analysis, Kathy Sisson, p. 27).

“Weinberg (1994) suggests six prerequisite social criteria for the institutionalization of S/M interests into S/M culture: embedded power relations, social acceptance of aggression, unequal power distribution, leisure time, imagination and creativity.” (The Cultural Formation of S/M: History and Analysis, Kathy Sisson, p. 27).

“McClintock (1993) suggests S/M is uniquely well-suited sexually for post-modern, post-procreative society because it flaunts socially constructed power, gender roles, identity and eroticism [and] proposes several ways in which S/M accomplishes this: (1) S/M subverts reified social power relations by creativing and enacting exaggerated power roles and by appropriating the privelege to punish; (2) S/M challenges the boundaries of sanctioned gender role behavior by allowing either gender to assume dominant and submissive roles; (3) S/M mocks the concept of a unitary, fixed identity by allowing participants to move fluidly in and out of an S/M sexual identity and by facilitating participants’ adoption of various fantasy and S/M roles; and (4) S/M deconstructs the paradigm of genitally oriented eroticism by utilizing non-genital, non-erogenous sites on the body for sexual arousal” (The Cultural Formation of S/M: History and Analysis, Kathy Sisson, p. 28).

“BDSM is a term used to describe a variety of sexual behaviours that have an implicit or explicit power differential as a significant aspect of the erotic interaction” (Themes of SM Expression, Charles Moser and Peggy J. Kleinplatz, p. 35).

“The subjective aspects of SM require their own taxonomy. Motives and intentions are complex and cannot ever be deduced from observation alone” (Themes of SM Expression, Charles Moser and Peggy J. Kleinplatz, p. 37).

“SM is said to have five common features: the appearance of dominance and submission, role-playing, mutual definition, consensuality and a sexual context for the individual… The emphasis here is on the appearance of dominance and submission, because the actual power in the relationship is much more subtle… SM is consensual by definition. Just as the difference between consensual coitus and rape is consent, the difference between SM and violence is consent. Non-consensual acts are criminal” (Themes of SM Expression, Charles Moser and Peggy J. Kleinplatz, p. 38).

“For others, the role-play provides the context for the SM and, sometimes, even for the relationship itself. That is, they find the roles create the erotic backdrop for the relationship; without these roles the partner would cease to be attractive” (Themes of SM Expression, Charles Moser and Peggy J. Kleinplatz, p. 42).

“Of interest, the ‘Mommy-boy’ dynamic is less common and often cast as an ‘adult-baby’ relationship… Even though these terms denote the gender of the participants, one cannot infer the sex of the participants from this language; lesbians often employ the ‘male’ terms and some men use the ‘female’ terms” (Themes of SM Expression, Charles Moser and Peggy J. Kleinplatz, p. 43).

“It is well known that sexual arousal alters pain perception, elevating pain thresholds over 80%…” (Themes of SM Expression, Charles Moser and Peggy J. Kleinplatz, p. 45).

“…a fetish is distinct from partialism; the latter involves a strong sexual attraction towards a part of the body. Within the SM community, both possibilities are merged together and referred to as a fetish” (Themes of SM Expression, Charles Moser and Peggy J. Kleinplatz, p. 49).

“One of the difficulties in designating any set of proclivities as pathological is the lack of criteria for what constitutes ‘normal’ or ‘healthy’ sexuality… The lack of objective criteria makes it all too easy for mental health professionals to rely upon predominant cultural values to guide assessments… At present, Western clinicians tend to think of ‘normal’ sexuality as monogamous, procreation-oriented intercourse, featuring the heterosexual, young (but not too young) and able-bodied” (Is SM Pathological?, Peggy J. Kleinplatz and Charles Moser, p. 55).

“…when distress is manifest, it may result primarily from social stigma surrounding SM. This phenomenon is akin to internalized homonegativity in gay and lesbian individuals. The recommended ‘treatment’ is to validate the distress rather than to ‘cure’ the SM desires… As for impairment, this [DSM] criterion is particularly noteworthy in illustrating the social biases that continue to pervade the DSM. For example, the DSM considers it a sign of impairment if SM is ‘obligatory’; why single out some behaviours as pathological when required for sexual fulfillment and not others? Why not decree that people who require heterosexual intercourse to reach orgasm are pathological? Actually that was precisely the case during the 1950s when women who ‘failed’ to achieve orgasm during intercourse were labeled ‘frigid’” (Is SM Pathological?, Peggy J. Kleinplatz and Charles Moser, p. 57).

“In the absence of theory or research demonstrating what constitutes ‘normal’ sexuality, it is all too easy to pathologize the unconventional based on prevailing social currents. SM is particularly liable to being stigmatized in societies uneasy with sexual pleasure for its own sake” (Is SM Pathological?, Peggy J. Kleinplatz and Charles Moser, p. 60).

“The reason for, and essence of, the question [whether law can ever make peace with violence] is the fundamental paradox that while law purports to substitute itself for violence – in the form of a civilized, and civilizing, alternative – it retains and depends on, an immanent violence of its own” (Sadomasochism and the Law, Matthew Weait, p. 63).

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The Intersection of Gender Roles and BDSM Power Roles

I was so pleased when the National Coalition for Sexual Freedom—an organization which I have long admired for their tireless support of alternative lifestyles—asked me to submit a guest blog for their site, and posted a excerpt on the presentation I gave at the Woodhull Sexual Freedom Summit in 2014 based on my paper “The BDSM Power Exchange: Subversion, Transcendence, Sexual (R)evolution.”  The excerpt they included was chosen because it aligned well with one of their main goals, which is to debunk the historical pathologization and criminalization of BDSM.  I wanted to share with you the excerpt below as well, which looks at the intersection of gender roles and BDSM power roles and the potential for subversion and sexual (r)evolution.

sexual-r-evolution3

[…]

An individual’s gender expression is arguably the most visible set of physical characteristics used by society to form assumptions about what is acceptable behavior. This type of automatic social profiling can be exceptionally stressful for those being profiled, as there is no viable way for individuals to fulfill societal expectations of idealized stereotypical gender roles. Many BDSM participants find relief from such societal constraints within the parameters of the BDSM power exchange, and often experience a subsequent release of stress that can be quite therapeutic1.

Research that explores BDSM interactions from a normative (i.e., non-pathologizing) perspective is a relatively new phenomenon, and research that explores a subversion or displacement of gender roles within BDSM interactions is quite rare. Historically, the literature has suggested that BDSM interactions might be more contingent on gender and/or sexual orientation than power dynamic, likely due to the historical bias that assigns feminine-presenting individuals to submissive sexual roles, and masculine-presenting individuals to dominant sexual roles2. In order to refute the “the myth of the alpha male,” a study was conducted in 2008 positing that social dominance in females had been traditionally overlooked in research, by biologists and psychologists alike. The study involved the administration of questionnaires to a relatively large sample (N = 1723) of children in grades 5 through 10, reporting self- and peer-ratings on aggression, social motivation, and interpersonal influence. Their findings showed patterns in females that had typically been associated with male dominance, as well as patterns in males that had typically been associated with stereotypical (i.e., less dominant) female behavior; in other words, the study suggested that social dominance exists outside the realm of gender-specific norms3. This tendency toward gender skew was further refuted in Hawley and Hensley’s 20092 study of feminine power, which reported higher preferences for submissive fantasies in men than women.

One common theme described in BDSM activities as deliberately contrary to traditional patriarchal society is the common pairing of feminine dominants and masculine submissives4. Exaggerated parodies of subjugation, oppression, and exploitation emphasize an inequity of power that is not always weighted in favor of men or masculine gender representations; thus, BDSM interactions have been described as parodying traditional heteronormative sexual interactions5. The relationship between gender and power dynamic was examined in a qualitative study in which 24 participants from the BDSM community were interviewed regarding their sexual behaviors. The transcriptions were coded in order to determine common discourses, or “underlying systems of meaning” (p. 297), and the data showed several instances in which power dynamics were found to diverge from gender identification5. One common theme described BDSM activities as deliberately contrary to mandates of traditional patriarchal society, effectively ridiculing, undermining, and deconstructing mainstream sexual interactions toward the goal of exorcising subjugation and oppression5.

Taylor and Ussher’s findings directly counter arguments that many radical second- and some third-wave feminists have put forth against BDSM—that it reenacts and fosters the male-dominated structure of society, and therefore that consent in BDSM interactions is not valid4. Reminiscent of the means by which paraphilic disorders remain included in the DSM, these assertions are based in philosophical beliefs and political arguments; there has been no empirical research conducted to support these theories. As noted, the research that has been conducted shows that the power structures established by BDSM participants can in effect de-gender power dynamics through pointed subversion and personal choice. The devaluing of consent in BDSM interactions due to an ostensible association with misogyny effectively strips BDSM participants of agency and reduces them to a stereotype. In other words, to say that BDSM participants are not capable of giving consent because outside viewers may misunderstand the meaning of their actions negates self-determination and further stigmatizes this sexual minority group4.

[…]

McClintock’s6 exploration of the intersection between fetishism and gender power suggests that the prevalence of BDSM continues to expand due to a desire in modern societies to challenge mainstream social constructs of power, gender, identity, and erotic expression. BDSM power roles are said to complicate and/or supersede traditional power roles by subverting socially ingrained power dynamics through the creation and enactment of interactions that pointedly appropriate the privilege to punish6. There is no default method of behavior or expression in BDSM; instead, there is a conscious disruption of conformity, which can serve to free the individuals involved from the pressure of conforming to mainstream society, thereby providing psychological relief1. The parameters of a BDSM scene can provide a safe space where any gender can adopt any power role, thereby challenging the constraints of stereotypical gender expression6, and allowing for an expansion, elaboration, or contradiction of an individual’s typical gender expression in daily life. Participants can fluidly inhabit different sexual identities within or across BDSM scenes, mocking the idea of an expected and fixed identity, freeing individuals to expand their exploration of erotic desire, fantasy, and self-identification4,6. The vast array of scenarios and activities that fall within the realm of BDSM encourage many participants to seek an evolution of their sexuality and definition of self. Furthermore, many BDSM interactions deconstruct the expectation that erotic acts should be genitally focused, in the exploration of non-genital, atypical erogenous locations on the body or in the mind for arousal4,6. This displacement and diffusion of arousal challenges the notion of conventionally enacted sexual stimulation, and allows for an ongoing expansion of physical and psychological outlets of sexual satisfaction.

[…]

_____________

1 Pitagora, D. & Ophelian, A. (2013). Therapeutic benefits of subspace in BDSM interactions. [PowerPoint slides].

2 Hawley, P. H. & Hensley, W. A. (2009). Social dominance and forceful submission fantasies: Feminine pathology or power? The Journal of Sex Research, 46(6), 568–585.

3 Hawley, P. H., Little, T. D., & Card, N. A. (2008). The myth of the alpha male: A new look at dominance-related beliefs and behaviors among adolescent males and females. International Journal of Behavioral Development, 32(1), 76–88.

4 Hopkins, P. (1994). Rethinking sadomasochism: Feminism, interpretation, and simulation. Hypatia, 9(1), 116-141.

5 Taylor, G. W. & Ussher, J. M. (2001). Making sense of S&M: A discourse analytic account. Sexualities, 4(3), 293-314.

6 McClintock, A. (1993). Maid to order: Commercial fetishism and gender power. Social Text, 37, 87-116.

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The (In)visibility of Gender Diversity in Graduate Level Education

While the abstract below refers to the lack of education on gender diversity in graduate level psychology programs and to the pathologization of gender diversity in related literature, it’s clear that the reification of heteronormative gender roles is also rampant in the field of social work (Hicks, 2014). As someone who holds master’s degrees in both psychology and social work, I experienced this phenomenon first hand twice, and as someone whose practice provides support for underserved individuals in the trans* community, I’ve taken it upon myself to correct this gap in my education. My efforts have also been motivated by identifying as non-binary/gender fluid, though I say this knowing that I benefit from the privilege that goes along with being presumed to be cis female in most circles. However, it is not solely for personal and professional reasons that I am posting the abstract to this article. Clinicians, educators, and other service providers have a responsibility to understand gender and sexual diversity—it is crucial not only to avoid further stigmatizing underserved populations, but this is the most direct route towards recognizing the diversity that exists (often invisibly) in every individual. Knowledge is powerful, and I believe that instilling a heightened awareness of diversity in future psychologists and social workers has the power to relieve constraints against freedom of expression for all individuals, and create a more tolerant and accepting society overall.

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Peering into Gaps in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders:
Student Perspectives on Gender and Informing Education
by Jessica Joseph, Dulcinea Pitagora, Adrian Tworecke, and Kailey Roberts (2013)
The Society for International Education Journal:
Engaging with Difference, Gender and Sexuality in Education, 7
(1), 104-127

Abstract: At the intersection of psychology and critical theories, graduate students in psychology are uniquely situated to analyze the pedagogical assumptions and practices that shape constructions of gender normativity in the field. Writing from the perspective of current students, we examine how the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition Text-Revision’s (DSM-IV-TR) work group members represent gender in their own publications. In line with previous criticisms, we suggest that many of the work group members uphold traditional binary systems; perpetuate statistical reinforcement and social loops; and pathologize (or deem developmentally lagging) gender diverse behavior. We question whether the DSM-IV-TR has been revised by diverse voices and make recommendations on how graduate-level curricula might broaden its pedagogy to include more fluid and inclusive concepts of gender expression.

A full-text PDF of the journal issue this article was published in can be downloaded here; the article begins on page 104.

While the Hicks article I mentioned above reviews “various theorizations of gender” (e.g., poststructural and postmodern feminism, queer and trans theory, material and structural, ethnomethodological, performative, and discursive) “to highlight ways in which social work may be limited in the versions that it prioritizes” (p. 13), it is exceedingly valuable to fields and schools of thought reaching far beyond the scope of social work. I highly recommend reading it! Here’s the citation:

Hicks, S. (2014). Social work and gender: An argument for practical accounts. Qualitative Social Work, 0(00), 1-17.

*****

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