Robert Stoller’s Sex and Gender: 40 Years On
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By its title, Sex and Gender announced a conceptual breakthrough in distinguishing basic elements of human experience. In Robert Stoller’s first book, patients illustrating this divergence were lucidly presented. Transvestites and the newly publicized transsexuals were two examples. Clinical and dynamic distinctions between the two formed a basis for Stoller’s criteria for patient selection for “sex change.” They remain current. The complex identity of the intersexed was described with sensitivity and insight. It, too, remains timely. An innovative description of the genesis of boyhood transsexualism was presented in considerable detail. This finding is less commonly reported today but is also not looked for. Stoller was sympathetic to the request for sex change. He credited a biological contribution to the development of masculinity and femininity. Both stances were remarkable for a psychoanalyst. Robert Stoller introduced the term “gender identity.” It is now our vocabulary when we articulate this bedrock of personhood.
KeywordsGender identity Transsexualism Transvestism Intersexuality Psychoanalysis
This essay is modified from an invited address at the Robert Stoller Foundation, Los Angeles, CA, 20 November 2009.
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