1. In a certain sense, there is no “Trans Issue”. We have nothing to say about trans people except, on a case by case basis, about each One who comes to meet an analyst. Therefore, there is no prototype of a ‘trans case’.
2. Consequences: A clinical workshop on trans people can only account for a clinic of the subject and will tell us nothing about trans people. Fortunately, psychoanalysis is not an entomological classification enterprise.
3. What interests us is the emergence of an ideological discourse that is part of a broader movement that includes gender studies, racialism and neo-feminism, since this movement aims to foreclose the real as Jacques-Alain Miller pointed out at the World Association of Psychoanalysis’ Great Conversation in March this year.
4. Leaving aside racialism and neo-feminism, gender studies posits that a person’s gender based on two sexes, male and female, is a social construct, the effect of centuries of white heterosexual colonialist patriarchy (see, for example, the work of Paul B. Preciado). We find in this simple qualifier the implication of a dreamed-up culprit of global discrimination: for racialism: white colonialism; for neo-feminism: patriarchy; for gender: heterosexuals.
5. However, we can agree with the fact that LGBTQIA+ people have been discriminated against, that colonialism has caused terrible damage and endorsed constant racism, and that patriarchy is at the origin of male-female inequalities that must be fought against, and also at the root of the behaviours denounced by the Metoo movement, among others, which is important to highlight. But the turn towards an ideological discourse that ends up producing what they denounce (Cancel Culture) as if rewriting history, is questionable.
6. We can also agree, following Lacan when he says that man and woman are nothing but signifiers, that gender is a signifying construction. But Lacan’s aphorism: “there is no sexual relation”, states a fundamental fact that refers to the real of the body. There is no sexual relation can only be formulated from one point: everything is foreseen in nature for the meeting of bodies: penis-vagina, sperm-ovum, uterus, breast, etc., but it is through language that the parlêtre (speaking-being) is parasitized and thus the programme of nature is disturbed. Then the signifier collides with the programme of jouissance One, producing a new regime of jouissance: jouissance of the signifier.
7. Consequences: Language is both the poison and the remedy. We have fallen forever from the Garden of Eden, but at the same time, through semblants (fundamental fantasy, identification, sublimation, love…) we deal with the real. Philippe Sollers’ book Secret Agent is a tribute to all these small inventions that make the human being. But the anchor point which allows the emergence of the structure is the real of the body, which affirms the non-adequacy of the sexes. Therefore, nothing can be said about what a man or a woman is, it is a matter of signifying – symbolic and imaginary – constructions. The unconscious is situated at the very juncture of this irreconcilable space between the signifier and the body, producing a radical mismatch, intrinsic to each subject, but also between subjects, between the sexes. The unconscious is a “making do” with the speaking-body.
8. This is where we say that there is something that fails in “trans ideology”, not in trans people. Because “The trans”, like “The woman”, does not exist. That is why we said in point 2 that a ‘trans clinical workshop’ will never teach us anything about trans people. Nevertheless, this ideology that comes from gender studies has effects in and on the real; let’s look at some of its consequences:
By denying the biological body, this discourse opens the way to a mechanistic view of the body, a body made of spare and interchangeable parts. This results in denying the effects on the psyche itself. Trans people can teach us things about this.
By reducing the body to a pure signifier, as in the case of the purely declarative trans, the status of the Other and the other changes radically. The signifier in its mortifying function raises the death drive to the rank of an imaginary paradigm: it is either him or me. The master-signifier becomes radical. Here again, trans subjects can teach us something.
It is often observed that the phrase: “I was not born in the right body” is a pure ideological slogan, often taken up by suffering subjects, but which comes to block this suffering. The consequences of this can be terrible. For certain subjects, it is necessary to know whether the signifier chain can take up the radical inadequacy of the relation of the being to the body.
Today, Trans is a master-signifier that can be taken from the treasure trove of signifiers by a child or an adolescent to try to name this structural inadequacy between the body and the subject. No doubt we will have to measure the consequences of this for a docile welcoming of each subject, because psychoanalysis teaches us that whatever the signifier, the failure is structural.
Producing a radicality of the master-signifier implies a foreclosure of the unconscious. It is an attempt to suture the gap between the body and the signifier. Then the word becomes the thing: I am what I say. Certainty takes the place of gap and suture. Trans people can also teach us a lot about this relation to certainty.
From there, any discourse can support this position. The discourse of suffering makes it possible for the child to fight against this “suffering”. That is why certainty is valued over the deception of the signifier. We should ask ourselves about the consequences for a child of seeing his enigma reduced by the Other to a certainty.
Can we accept, when we are psychoanalysts, for science to intervene on children’s bodies in the name of this certainty of the scientistic Other? As we have heard here, inviting the one for whom the body is an enigma to speak, is already an opening towards the unconscious. But the certainty of ideological discourses wants to silence the possibility of the unconscious.
Undoubtedly, the consequences of this foreclosure of the unconscious must be measured.
Translated by Florencia F.C. Shanahan
*A version of this text was presented at the Fundación para la Clínica Psicoanalítica de Orientación Lacaniana during the Workshop on the Trans Clinic, whose poster we use as image for this publication.
Originally published in Spanish online: https://fcpol.org/introduccion-a-la-ultima-reunion-del-taller-clinico-sobre-la-problematica-trans-de-la-fcpol-4-de-mayo-de-202/