New Theories for Understanding Gender

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In this lecture, SJ Langer will begin by applying and expanding Gallagher’s theories concerning body image and body schema to the concept of gender broadly and to transgender experience specifically. The locations within the self and consciousness where the domains of gender identity and gender expression reside will be established drawing from psychology, gender studies, philosophy and neuroscience. In deepening the understanding of how transgender self-awareness functions, this lecture will explore the concepts of Polanyi’s tacit knowledge, embodied metaphors and phantom limbs. This will reveal how one comes to know the various elements of gender as a fundamental aspect of the self. Ultimately this formulation will reveal gender as an algorithm. There is a gender sum the individual is working towards through transition and the lifespan. The elements of the equation are malleable as long as the sum is achieved through the interplay between gender identity and expression. This formulation, which implements interdisciplinary theories, develops a more profound understanding of trans* experience and how that can direct clinical practice.

SJ Langer, LCSW-R is a writer and psychotherapist in private practice in New York City with a BFA from School of Visual Arts and an MSW from New York University. He is on the Executive Committee for the Psychotherapy Center for Gender and Sexuality at the Institute for Contemporary Psychotherapy and the planning committees for the PCGS & the Philadelphia Trans Health Conference. His academic articles explore transgender, bodies, language, trauma and clinical work.

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