Toronto Metropolitan University
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Mainstream Psychology And The Gender Binary: Toward An Account Of Becoming "Non-Binary"

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posted on 2021-05-23, 19:04 authored by Alexander T. Vasilovsky
The gender binary haunts mainstream psychology’s history of medicalizing trans and gender nonconforming people, particularly its construction of their gender identities as psychopathological and in need of treatment for violating the binary logic of normative (cis) development. Drawing on interviews with 24 participants who identified as “non-binary,” this dissertation advances: 1) a genealogical analysis of the construction, interpretation, and administration of “transgenderism” (psychology’s parlance) which elucidates the discipline’s maintenance of the gender binary through said construction, interpretation, and administration; and (2) an account of “becoming” gendered (non-binary, in this case) as an alternative to the mainstream models of gender identity development. Becoming (a) shifts from the etiological “why” to the psychosocial “how” (as in, how to go about assembling oneself as non-binary; labels and pronouns are key); (b) eschews teleology (there is no end goal with regard to embodiment); (c) privileges gender self-determination; (d) attends to intersectionality; and (e) foregrounds intersubjectivity. The participants were largely concerned with asserting the validity of their gender identities as non-binary, which are routinely dismissed and invalidated, and this dissertation works toward undoing psychology’s own invalidating practices.





  • Doctor of Philosophy


  • Psychology

Granting Institution

Ryerson University

LAC Thesis Type

  • Dissertation

Thesis Advisor

Maria Gurevich