2013 Theses Doctoral
Diagnosing the Self: An Ethnography of Clinical Management of Gender in Children
This dissertation is an ethnographic study of the clinical practices emerging around gender non-conforming children in the U.S. It explores the epistemic, techno-scientific and socio-cultural conditions of the emergence of these clinical practices, their related diagnostic categories, and their convergence with categories of personhood among children, such as the transgender child. In addition to diagnostic practices, it analyzes the development of psychotherapeutic and medical treatments for gender atypical children, particularly the recent treatment named "puberty suppression." This ethnography includes the study of 1) the expert revision of the psychiatric category of Gender Identity Disorder of Childhood (GIDC) by the American Psychiatric Association for the fifth edition of the DSM, 2) the diagnostic and treatment practices at two major pediatric gender clinics in the U.S., one mainly psychiatric and one endocrine.
This project explores the relation between the concept and clinical practice of GIDC, and links the production of global expert knowledge to the unfolding of events in local clinics. It examines discourses of gender, body, identity, and childhood that construct, and are produced by, these medical concepts and practices. It explores the contemporary scientific and cultural appeal of innate and interior origins of identity and difference, and the status of children as clinical subjects in establishing scientific evidence of truth and authenticity. It situates the current medico-cultural notion of the brain as the location of gender identity within the culturally and historically specific conceptions of the body and the soul and the modern accounts of "the self" as interiority and psychic depth.
This item is currently under embargo. It will be available starting 2025-06-13.
More About This Work
- Academic Units
- Sociomedical Sciences
- Thesis Advisors
- Vance, Carole
- Ph.D., Columbia University
- Published Here
- June 12, 2013
A poster supplement to this dissertation is available at https://doi.org/10.7916/D8R5007Q.