Over 11 and 12 March 2017, The Site for Contemporary Psychoanalysis hosted a conference, in partnership with the Freud Museum London, entitled ‘Transgender, Gender & Psychoanalysis.’ It ran alongside an extraordinary range of events, including an art exhibition organised and put together by a highly dedicated group of Site trainees. These events were conceived as part of the celebrations for the twentieth anniversary of The Site’s founding in 1997. Bringing together an outstanding group of internationally renowned analysts, scholars, artists and activists, the two-day conference and the fortnight of ‘fringe’ events resulted in a deeply thought-provoking and ground-breaking accomplishment. The aim of this ambitious programme was to open psychoanalysis in general – and the Site, in particular – to appreciating what psychoanalysis might learn clinically, theoretically and politically from an encounter with the diversities of the transgender and genderqueer experience, as well as to reflect upon how these multiple experiences might be illuminated by psychoanalysis.
Before a more formal introduction of this special edition of Sitegeist, whose aim is to capture something of the spirit and enthusiasm of this special series of events, I will say a few words about the conference events themselves. An art exhibition exploring and deconstructing some of the themes around the varieties of the transgender experience, ran at Draper Hall, in the Elephant & Castle, to resounding praise from the trans, artistic and psychotherapeutic communities that attended. The organisers, all of whom were trainees, beautifully curated a range of powerful pieces, including contributions of their own challenging and original works. Complementing this, the team screened Xavier Dolan’s beautiful and heartfelt film Laurence Anyways at the Cinema Museum in Kennington, followed by an insightful response and Q&A with the fabulous trans journalist Rhyannon Styles. Additionally, the legendary Jo Clifford – who was also one of our speakers at the conference – performed her hugely acclaimed The Gospel According to Jesus, Queen of Heaven at Draper Hall – a show that went on to practically incite riot in Brazil later in the year, with its anti-transphobic and pro-inclusivity message.