[ONLINE] University of Aveiro, Portugal

October 21, 22 and 23 2020

Gender and Age: conceptual de/re/constructions for a Critical Psychological Practice

Teresa Teixeira
Nuno Santos Carneiro
Conceição Nogueira

The present work intends to consider possible insufficiencies of an affirmative mainstream psychological practice. We based this work on reflections emerging from the problematization around a population that transgresses two basic psychological categories: age and gender. We start from a critical and intersectional epistemic position, in which what is privileged is a queer construction, always contrary to any category.

Gender non-binary people performatively transgress gender, sexuality, and other dualisms that informs the understanding of our bodies and our humanity. Age is also performative in its de/constructions and reconstructions, as a discursive, political, and cultural fiction that informs specific games of knowledge and power. The categories of gender and age are constructed through linguistic rituals and constant reiterations. These mechanisms inform the notion of unquestionable truths, which opens up space for the construction of norms and the social and political regulation of these gendered and so-called elderly/old bodies.

An interview was conducted with a non-binary gender person around 60 years old, followed by the thematic analysis (Braun and Clarke 2006) of the data collected. The emerging themes reflect multiple and fluid conceptions of gender. The critical analysis of the gender conceptualization, based on the notions brought by the interviewee’s narrative (and in close articulation with what are the proposals of our theoretical approach), leads us to relevant reflections on how to deconstruct the current discourses and practices based on the gender binary. When considering the in/adequacy of some affirmative psychological approaches, we understand which presupposes the existence of rigid identity categories.

There is an urgent need to prevent abusive simplifications of what gender or age may mean, as these are concepts capable of complexifying the human experience. Therefore, a practice is needed that faces the dilemma of affirming and deconstructing identities simultaneously. Lastly, we argue on the potential of critical affirmative psychotherapy that refuses to categorize, accepting that any certainty is temporary.

Keywords: age; genre; non-binarism; queer studies; critical psychology.