Fanon and the New Paraphilias: Towards a Trans of Color Critique of the DSM-V.


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This essay places psychiatrist and philosopher Frantz Fanon's anti-colonial, anti-racist message from Peau Noire, Masques Blancs/Black Skin, White Masks (1952; 1967; 2008) in conversation with the new diagnoses of "Gender Dysphoria" and "Transvestic Disorder" in the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-V). Specifically, the essay discusses sexologist Ray Blanchard's controversial theory of autogynephilia alongside Fanon's ambivalent rendering of transgender desire and interracial trans phenomenology in a crucial but frequently overlooked passage in Black Skin. Fanon's anti-colonial critique of psychiatry allows us to reconsider how Blanchard's theories on paraphilia engage with the foundational psychoanalytic concepts of identification and desire, as identified by the Freudian and Lacanian models and explored in the writings of Judith Butler, Catherine Millot, Charles Shepherdson, and others. By offering a fresh interpretation of the French text, this essay argues that a "trans of color critique" can benefit from Black Skin's unexpected insight into trans desire: Fanon's "man of color," who simultaneously undergoes a gender transition and a racial transformation, represents the literal embodiment of his critique of colonial racism. Given the role of the new paraphilias in the DSM-V, this essay concludes that a trans of color critique is well positioned to reinforce the anti-colonial message Fanon addressed to the psychiatric and psychoanalytical fields, which have tended to diagnose psychic injury while ignoring its causation, and which continue to neglect the fact that medical access is just as important as material support and security for minority subjects, in particular.



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