DOCILE TO TRANS
The storm has broken. The trans crisis is
upon us. Trans people are in a trance (let's get that one out of the way, it was
to be expected) while among the psy community, pro-trans and anti-trans grapple
with each other with all the gusto of Big-Endians and Little-Endians in Gulliver’s Travels.
Rightly so—and yet, how inappropriate it is to
joke, to laugh and to mock when the stakes in this war of ideas could not be more
serious and when what is at stake is nothing less than our civilisation and its
famous malaise, or discontent,
diagnosed by Freud at the very beginning of the 1930s of the last century? Is the
satirical mode suitable for such a serious subject? Certainly not. So, I will make
amends. I will not be caught again.
I wrote “War of ideas”. This is the title of
Eugénie Bastié's latest book. It came back to me unexpectedly. I don't think
the word “trans” appears in it a single time. The book ends on the current
state of radical feminism and the war of the sexes. Given that this pretty young
mother is also the savviest of journalists, it's safe to say that the outbreak
of the French trans crisis came after the book was written. Let's find the date
of the book’s launch, and we'll know that, three months earlier, this crisis
was not yet perceptible to a media eye as sharp as Eugénie B's.
Let's see. I pre-ordered La guerre des
idées. Enquête au cœur de l'intelligentsia française through Amazon and it
was delivered on the 11th of March. So, at the beginning of this year, trans
had not yet entered what the author—this auteur, auteure, autrice—calls “the
public debate”. It was invisible, or invisibilised,
to use a word dear to decolonials and
other wokes. Or perhaps we were all,
not authors of any persuasion, but ostriches?
Another play on words! A repeat offender! Incorrigible!
I plead guilty. But with extenuating circumstances: a difficult childhood, an
addiction to signifiers, pernicious influences. I cannot go any further into
the trans question without pleading my case.
The pro domo plea
From a very young age, I liked to play with and
on names and words. For example, I used to call my younger brother, Gérard, Géraldine.
He didn't become a transsexual, and nowadays he sports a beard on all the
television channels. I've been reading since I was very young, and what were my
first favourite books? Jules Verne's Journey
to the Center of the Earth and Edgar Allan Poë's The Golden Scarab, both stories of a secret message to be
deciphered. I loved Rabelais lists, Molière’s farces, Voltaire’s antics, Hugo’s
litanies, Alphonse Allais’s absurdities (but not Camus's “philosophy of the
absurd”), Gide's Les Caves du Vatican (but
not Les nourritures terrestres), the Surrealists’
‘exquisite corpse’, and Queneau and Co.’s “exercises in style”.
knew Latin, I read the classics, of course, but secretly cherished the satires
of Juvenal. Not being a Hellenist (my father had demanded that I learn Spanish,
because “so widespread in the world”), I read Lucian of Samosate only in
French. I never missed the spoonerisms of “L'Album de la Comtesse” in Le Canard enchaîné. I read Freud's book
on the Witz very early on.
So I was not very serious. I respected no one
but the great writers, the great philosophers, the great artists, the great
warriors and statesmen, or rather state personalities, poets and mathematicians.
I had even conceived, like Stendhal, an “enthusiasm” for mathematics; perhaps it
came to me also from “my horror for hypocrisy”.
Then, at the age of twenty, I had the
misfortune to fall into the clutches of a 63-year-old doctor, psychiatrist,
psychoanalyst, known as the white wolf for being a black sheep [mouton noir].
Over time he became a brébis galeuse—transition!
He lived in a dark, low-ceilinged mezzanine, a den, a real lair, in a building in
the 7th arrondissement where Isidore Ducasse's banker had lived, which makes it
the only place in Paris where we are sure that Lautréamont actually visited. Dr
Lacan, for it is him I am talking about, made a big deal of the fact. He told
me about it the first time he received me in his office, whose cramped
conditions made any 'social distancing' between bodies impossible and forced an
This irregular, non-standard character did not
hide his game. My Stendhalian horror of hypocrisy could find nothing to
reproach him for. He was a devil in open view, who ostensibly mocked everything,
that is, everything that was not him and not his cause. In the age of
benevolence, he was not shy about saying to his Seminar, “I have no good
intentions”. On the one occasion when he spoke on French television, prime
time, he said, referring to the analyst as a saint: “Not giving a damn for
distributive justice […] is where he most often started from”. He went
so far as to boast in public, shortly before his death, that he had spent his
life “being the Other in spite of the law”. To make matters worse for me, he
not only sheltered me under his wing, his black wing, his demonic wing, but I
became his relative: he granted me the hand of one of his daughters, the one who
had the devil's beauty, so to speak, and whom he had named Judith, playing his
cards close to his chest: the man who would enjoy her had to know that he would
pay for it with a fate worthy of Holofernes.
How did he catch me? By putting in my hands Gottlob
Frege's Foundations of Arithmetic, Die Grunlagen der Arithmetik, 1884, a
logistic elaboration of the concept of number (according to him, arithmetic was
based on logic.) Three years earlier, Lacan had himself done his utmost to
demonstrate to his followers the similarity
between the dynamic genesis of Frege's sequence of natural integers (0, 1, 2,
3, etc.) and the unfolding of what he called a signifying chain. “They only
hindered me”, he said, “let's see if you can do better”. My simple presentation
earned me a triumph among the psychoanalysts, his disciples, and at the same
time aroused much jealousy on their part: “But how did he do it? And to think
that he is not even in analysis!” And I wasn't even the ‘son-in-law' yet,
although a discreet romance had developed between myself and Judith.
Philippe Sollers, a prince of Letters who had
just begun to follow Lacan's Seminar, “charming, young and trailing all hearts behind him”, asked me for my text for his review Tel Quel. I had the nerve to refuse him,
wanting to reserve it for the first issue, mimeographed at the École normale, of
Cahiers pour l'analyse, which I had
just founded with three friends, Grosrichard, Milner and Regnault. A fourth, on
the other hand, Bouveresse, a member of the same Cercle d'épistémologie, was still
fulminating twenty years later, now a professor at the Collège de France, against
the nerve I had had to Lacanise Frege,
who was sacrosanct for the logicians. As for Derrida, my philosophy tutor, he pouted:
he judged my demonstration to be abstruse (he was not very well versed in mathematical
logic). Strangely enough, through channels I don't know, my little exposé
entitled “Suture” became a classic for film studies in the United States (?).
This was how the world wagged at the time
when the strict structuralism of Roman Jakobson and Claude Lévi-Strauss was
becoming an intellectual epidemic in and around Paris. The episode made my
reputation as a precocious genius of Lacanian studies. I was forever pinned
like a butterfly on the album of the Parisian intelligentsia: Papilio lacanor perinde ac cadaver. This
is how I found myself at the mercy of Jacques Marie Emile Lacan, a great sinner
of men before the Eternal.
Fifty years after the fact, it is time for MeToo to confess. Horresco referens, it's awful to say, but I was, for years, a victim
of unspeakable and incessant abuse of authority by my father-in-law, in both
public and private, constituting a true crime of moral and spiritual incest. I
gave in to something stronger than myself. I even consented—Shame! as
Adèle Haenel would say—to take some pleasure in it, a certain pleasure. I
remained divided forever.
The monster having passed away forty years
ago, the lawsuits I would come to initiate would only have a symbolic but nevertheless
decisive impact on healing the wounds in my soul and repairing the damage done
to my self-esteem.
I reserve for the judicial authorities the
details of the testimony I am giving. But I want it to be known: just like the
dust of which he was made that spoke through the mouth of Saint-Juste, braving
persecution and death, do not forget, dear reader, that it is a proud victim, a proud
victim, who speaks to you through mine. “But I defy them to wrest from me
the independent life I gave myself before the centuries and the heavens”.
Let's go back to our trans people. They are
victims. Like me.
The trans revolt
It seems that the current directors of the École
de la Cause freudienne—which was once brought to the baptismal font by me and mine
before being adopted by Lacan—had a good nose for it, since they invited the
famous trans Paul B. Preciado, darling of the woke media, to speak at the École's
2019 Annual Conference in the Grand Amphitheatre at the Palais des Congrès in
Paris. Preciado accepted graciously.
Why this unprecedented invitation, which
startled the psy community? The trans crisis was not yet upon us, but it could
be anticipated. Indeed, if we take an overview of things, if we look back and
take the long view of the process that has culminated today, in France, in the trans
revolt, what do we see?
Let us say it quickly. We must remember that the
sick, our patients, all those suffering souls who used to present themselves to
be taken care of by healers—whoever they were: nurses,
doctors, pharmacists, surgeons, dentists, acupuncturists, osteopaths, physiotherapists,
psychiatrists, psychologists, psychotherapists, and even psychopomps, not to
mention the bonesetters, fortune-tellers, witches, so deeply scrutinized in the
past by a Jeanne Favret-Saada, then a Lacanian, in a memorable study, marabouts,
healers, spell-casters, and so on, without forgetting the rest of us, not
least psychoanalysts, Lacanian and others—this mass therefore of seekers
of care were kept stupefied before “power-knowledge” (Foucault) of dispensers
of care. Their only right was to remain silent, except with the psy, of course,
and other charlatans of all kinds.
A new paradigm emerged after WW2. Day after
day, year after year, governments of the left, governments of the right,
governments of the centre, whispered to them, these oppressed ones: “Speak up! Don't
let them do it to you! You have rights. Just because you are sick, you are no
less a citizen. Do as everyone else does: complain! make them accountable! get yourself
reimbursed! get yourself compensation! The health
dictatorship is over! Make way for the health
“What do you think happened?”
“What do you think happened? The people
complied: they revolted. The “trans” and their allies got the message loud and
clear, and they are now pushing it to its ultimate consequences. Often, to rise
up, you need some encouragement or even an injunction from above, from the Great
Headquarters. Example: the Chinese Cultural Revolution. It was Chairman Mao's
directives that led to the formation of gangs of Red Guard across that vast
country, creating havoc throughout society.
In France, the public authorities did their
best to dismantle the ancient “subject supposed to know” that governed the medical
order. What is happening? The S2K finds himself cast off with the dregs, discredited,
lacerated, wrung out, tortured, down on his knees, with a dunce's cap upon his
head, dragged through the streets amid jeering, thrown out of the window. He falls
like Humpty Dumpty to the foot of the wall behind which the suffering population
had been penned up, and there he is, Humpty, in a thousand pieces. The wall in
turn collapses. The prisoners are having a ball. Everywhere it is the Night of August
the 4th, the end of the medical and healthcare practitioner’s privilege. And
order went plop!, which in the past, and not so long ago, prevailed with
difficulty in matters of arse.
Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall.
Humpty Dumpty had a great fall.
All the king's horses and all the king's men
Couldn’t put Humpty together again.
Respect and kindness
In affairs of the arse, that is to say, in
the field of sexuality if you prefer to speak like a stiff, it’s now a big mess.
Now everything is upside down. Butler and her Maenads have made an impossible shambles
of it all. I roasted Eric Marty for a good three hours, but I didn't get to the
bottom of the mysteries of gender. The Mysteries of Pompeii is a mere trifle
by comparison. In short, they can be summed up as follows: “The phallus, I tell
you. “Phalle, you will guide our steps”, as Zimmerwald once did. But gender? No need for a compass. Everyone
is losing their bearings. No longer fooled by anything, people are wandering.
It's the night in which all the cats are grey, as in Schelling's Absolute mocked
by Hegel. Nevertheless, everyone is talking about it. Everyone has an idea. Gender
is nowadays a matter of course for the “contemporary subject”.
My grandson, the last of the Millers, the
youngest heir to the name, 16 years old, an environmental activist, a fan of
mathematical physics and In Search of
Lost Time, lectures me on gender.
He has trans friends in his class. Half a century ago, I was in the same high
school, at the same age, and there were no trans people among us, at most one
or two dandies who were a bit androgynous around the edges and who dandied around to amuse the gallery. We
were all boys. No girls, no trans people. My generation still wore smocks at
elementary school. We wrote with a dip pen, a ballpoint was not allowed. It was
the Middle Ages.
My grandson: “You mustn’t say, Jacques-Alain,
that he has become a girl. It's upsetting
for him. No, he is a girl”. I reply,
“And when your big, well-coiffed friend tells you he's a girl, what do you do?”
“I accept what he says with respect and kindness”, he says. End of story. “No pasaran?” Well they
han pasado, they well and truly have
passed. “E pur si muove!” The phrase is apocryphal, it means: In spite
of all the inquisitions, all the demonstrations, gender is turning! Of it one
can make neither head nor tale. But no problem. The less clear it is, the better
it works. And it sweeps everything along in its path.
National public health policy since 1945 has
paved the way for the trans revolt. A chronology can be reconstructed, step by step.
Before going into the causes of the event, let us not dismiss the facts—unlike
Jean-Jacques in his Discourse on the
Origin and Foundations of Inequality among Mankind. This is, I think, the book
I reread most in my adolescence, between the ages of 14 and 18. The title
re-emerged during my analysis, in a dream, in the form: “… on the inequality between men and women”.
The unconscious had interpreted me. This was an occasion for he who I was to
laugh inexhaustibly, followed by the recognition in him of a machismo hidden
behind a bias towards my mother. In fact, in my childhood, when my father made my mother cry, who suffered
from his compulsive Don Juanism—which he kept like Swann until his death at the
age of 93—I definitely took her part. I was his mother’s little white knight.
The male chivalric fantasy has since been
pinned down and classified. White Knight
has recently become a term used to stigmatise the saviours of women in
distress, and all those who declare themselves to be supporters of gender equality in order to cede all
privileges to women. It is not clinicians who have isolated the phenomenon, but
male militants, defenders of a virility they believe to be under threat by the
progress of feminism. They are grouped in the masculinist movement MGTOW, for Men
Going Their Own Way.
The word 'Way' carries a lot of weight. We
remember Sinatra crooning My Way.
There is also the American idiomatic expression, “My way or the highway”. It translates as: “Take it or leave it”, “You
do as I say or get out”, etc. The expression became the title of a song by a so-called
pimp-rock band. MGTOW is in a way the
Tao of macho men.
The pimps' band is
called Limp Bizkit, and I learn by
Googling that the name is a distortion of Limp
Biscuit. Highly suggestive. For a pimp, having a limp biscuit probably
means horror, unemployment, shame. So the name is apotropaic: you ward off the
curse by the mere fact of assuming it with
pride. This is what the gays did with the insult “queer”.
There's more: while
consulting The Urban Dictionary, from
the reading of which I always derive a surplus-enjoyment because of the
extraordinary inventiveness of American street talk, I came across the
expression Penis biscuit, which
refers to a certain practice involving the foreskin. Go and see for yourself,
because, as they used to do in the old days in order to veil obscenities, I
couldn't reproduce the definition without translating it into Latin, and since my
khâgne is now a long way behind me, 
I don't have the vocabulary I need right now.
However, it is enough
to follow mgtow.com, the website responsible for disseminating the philosophy
of the movement and its main activities, to verify that it does indeed, as
Wikipedia says, cultivate a misogynistic, anti-feminist and hateful ideology. We
do not yet have the equivalent here in France.
I can only think of
Zemmour's speech, which could pass for the prefiguration of such a movement, or
rather for the expression of the desire for it to exist. But the French
polemicist remains a timid masculinist, who is far from showing women the same loathing
he has for minorities of colour—in a well-argued polemic, it must be admitted—
who, in his eyes, infest the country and are leading it to ruin. He sees the French
Muslims as future dominants, and he makes the kafir majority tremble by predicting that they will inexorably
become a minority. What is noticeable is that his rhetoric is modelled on that
of those de-colonials, genderqueers and woke
people whom he vows to demonise. He simply reverses it. That's the way of
the age: the same structure of thought is imposed on everyone, on you, on me.
It's the spirit of the age, the Zeitgeist.
The axiom of supremacy
If I dwell on MGTOW,
it is because we see at work in this movement, and as if for all eyes to see, several
of the constitutive axioms of the paradigm
shift of the new times. The word is Kuhn's, the idea owes a lot to
Foucault, who is himself indebted to Koyré, I won't go back any further.
What is the initial
notion of this paradigm shift? Let us say by hypothesis that it is distributive
injustice. This very old notion here takes the form of what I will call the
axiom of supremacy. It is understood that society is structured from top to
bottom by a matrix of domination, domination being an asymmetrical relation
between two powers of opposite sign (binarism!). With MGTOW, it is not
capitalists and proletarians, nor the elites and the people, nor Franks and
Gauls, what have you, it is simply women and men.
According to MGTOW, it
is women who hold the upper hand in society. Society is run for their exclusive
benefit, and to the detriment of men. They have the desire and the intention to
cheat, despoil and castrate men (Lacan, let's admit it, sometimes went in this
direction, but I won't say that without a pinch of salt).
As soon as we decide
to count them, the evidence of female supremacy is innumerable: in divorces or
separations, the courts regularly favour the second sex; on the strength of the
faith accorded to women's words, men see themselves groundlessly accused of
harassment, incest and rape, while there is no one to redeem the affronted male
innocence. Everything conspires to depreciate, ridicule and drive out masculine
At home, one Alain
Juppé—well-named by antiphrasis—has suffered for years for having once
proclaimed, when he was Prime Minister: “I am straight in my boots”. I had the
opportunity to tell him one day in his office at Bordeaux City Hall—where I had
come to ask for his help in countering the undertakings of a senior member of
his party who saw the fact that there was no state diploma in psychoanalysis as
a 'legal vacuum' that had to be filled—that the times no longer allowed a
politician to play the proud man by talking about his boots and his 'standing
straight' like an erect phallus, the Name-of-the-Father having long since
disappeared from the ballot paper to be replaced by the Desire of the Mother. A
few years later, the psychoanalyst-journalist Michel Schneider, although a rabid
anti-Lacanian, was to excellently baptise the metaphorical signifier with an
Orwellian nickname: Big Mother.
In Macron, four years
ago, France was to elect a mama's boy of the finest water, married very clearly
The separation axiom
Does this mean that, from
now on, everything will be benevolent, gentle, tender, in a word, delivered
This English word encompasses prudence, awareness,
being mindful of things, becoming cognisant of something, the attention given
to the execution of a task, providing a living being with the means to
perpetuate itself in being, etc.
Does this mean that we will
get out of the supremacist logic by peaceful and legal means, by diplomacy and
transaction, by long debate, drawn out discussion or by negotiating with the
It has happened. Think of
the 'Velvet Revolution' of 1989 in Czechoslovakia, the Sametovà revoluce. Or the smooth exit from apartheid in South
Africa, for which Nelson Mandela and the formerly dominant white minority
leader, Frederik De Klerk, were jointly awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993.
Going further back in time, the American civil rights movement in the 1960s had
the protest song, We Shall Overcome, as its war song, but its inspiration
was no less non-violent, humanistic and universalist, as manifested in the ‘negro spiritual’ Kumbaya, my Lord, a call
for God to come back (kumbaya is
a corruption of come back) to help
those concerned, to meet their needs, in short, to take care.
This used to exist, but that
was before the paradigm shift. Since
then, the second axiom, which I would qualify as separation, has irresistibly
imposed itself. What does it say? It says things like this: “Thou shalt not have
friendly relations with the other side. Thou shalt go thy own way. Thou shalt
not make pacts. Thou shalt not love thy neighbour as thyself, but thy fellow
man. Thou shalt love the same as thyself. Thou shalt flee from the other like
Satan. Those who are alike shall come together. Let no one enter here who is
If I wanted to please my
Argentinian friends, I would say that this is the Perón axiom. Indeed, among
the great principles enunciated by Evita's husband was this one: “No hay nada mejor para un peronista qué otro
peronista”. What proper noun could be
assigned to the axiom of supremacy? No Marxist name. No, it could be the
In the grip of the separation
axiom, many MGTOW members go so far as to refrain from sexual commerce with the
opposite sex, in order to avoid exposing themselves to the unpleasantness that
awaits those who collaborate with the enemy, particularly those false
allegations with which the #Metoo vixens are familiar.
Alice Coffin's Lesbian Genius, which caused almost all
of the country's enlightened opinion to gag last fall, is just MGTOW in reverse:
WGTOW, so to speak. Nothing but classic.
Soon, retiring to a hideous
The Woman will have Gomorrah
and the Man will have Sodom,
And, casting an irritated
glance at each other from afar,
Both sexes will die
Vigny already had in his own way this concept
of the “monosexual” in which Foucault, in the last years of his life, placed
all his hopes for happiness, and from which he drew his joy of living, as
demonstrated by Eric Marty in Le Sexe des
Modernes. Alice Coffin has had the merit of lending her voice
to what has been whispered about since time immemorial in the most respectable
and established lesbian circles. What's new is that what was once whispered in
the ears of girlfriends is now being shouted out in public and over the
airwaves. Why this new tolerance for intolerance? Because we live under the
axiom of separation.
And when Tartuffe and Tartuffa recriminate, crying
out: “My God, let us be spared the
disgusting tastes of these dykes!” What can we say to them, except: “Zap, T
and T, zap, for God's sake, if it revolts you so much! Keep to yourselves!”
Valerie Solanas said it all back in 1967 in
the SCUM Manifesto: “Life in this society being, at best, an utter
bore and no aspect of society being at all relevant to women, there remains to
civic-minded, responsible, thrill-seeking females only to overthrow the
government, eliminate the money system, institute complete automation and
destroy the male sex”. And bang! And bang! And bang! She fires three shots at Andy Warhol, poor guy. He almost
died, and lived his life in terror of Solanas. She had to undergo a psychiatric
evaluation and serve three years in prison. She died in San Francisco in 1988. In
San Francisco, her play Up Your Ass,
which she had given to Warhol as a manuscript, was first performed in 2000. According
to the Village Voice, she vowed to
wipe all men off the face of the earth. Norman Mailer called her the
Robespierre of feminism (see Wikipedia).
At this stage, Solanas or MGTOW, everything is
still simple. It's the war of the sexes, known since the dawn of time, only heated
up, with live ammunition (there are no reports of MGTOW murders yet, but that
will come soon).
This incandescence reflects the irresistible
rise of the desire for segregation, to call it that. To parody Sully, suprematism
and separatism are the two breasts of segregation. It rolls us in its wave, all
of us, the pros, the cons, the neutrals, the right, the left and the rest.
A new thrill
Hugo wrote of Baudelaire to
Baudelaire that he had created “a new thrill”. That's it.
With the entry on the scene
of the trans person, an often colourful character in our human comedy—Balzac's
trans person? Of course, in the guise of the androgynous Seraphitus-Seraphita— a
new thrill passes through civilisation.
people bring is disorder [trouble]. Not disorder in gender, which is
intrinsically confused, but disorder, a skirmish, in the immemorial war of the
Before trans people, the monster was the hermaphrodite.
He too disturbed sexual public order. But hermaphroditism is only a matter of
organs. A hermaphrodite is a biological case, a rare one at that. Androgyny, on
the other hand, is a creature of myth, a matter of look and lifestyle. An androgynous
person is someone whose appearance does not allow you to determine to which sex
he or she belongs. This was already the case in ancient Greece or Rome: see Luc
Brisson's Le sexe incertain. It is
not as such a sexual identity disorder. Trans is something else again.
The prosopopeia of trans
Like Voltaire, Foucault liked to play the
ventriloquist. In his books, he willingly gave the floor to fictitious interlocutors,
opponents. He would invent arguments for them, compose speeches for them, and
then abandon his belly voice to resume his throat voice in order to answer in
his own name to his puppets. He uses the technique, if I remember correctly,
from the end of the History of Madness on. Well, how would a trans activist
of today—an editor, for example, of one of these well-made sites that have been
flourishing on the Internet for the past two years, Vivre Trans or Seronet—take me to task if, by chance, my
conversation with Eric Marty were to come to his attention? It's up to me to
My imaginary trans interlocutor would say
“Neither Marty, nor you, nor Butler, are
trans. You talk about trans people.
Trans people are the objects of your
chatter, just as they have, for a long time now, been the objects of medical discourse, psychiatric discourse and
psychoanalytic discourse. Well, that's all over. A shift in forces has taken
place, on a scale that you cannot imagine, one that is likely to upset culture
and civilisation, so that just as once the Bastille was taken, trans people
have now taken the floor [pris la
parole], just as Michel de
Certeau (S.J.) used to say about May '68. From now on, trans people will talk
about trans people, we will talk about trans people to trans people, we will talk
about trans people to non-trans people, who have a lot to learn and a lot to
make up for. Who more than a trans person is qualified to talk about trans people?”
He or she would continue: “Despite what a
vain people might think and desire, there will be no turning back. The Genie
will not fit back in the bottle. That is the way it is. In the future you will
have to reckon with us, with our words,
with our sensibility, with our demands and our hopes, with our sufferings
as we express them with our words and
not with yours, which, between us, stink of something rancid. You are no longer
raw, you are cooked, you are no longer credible. One plays the epistemologist,
Marty, a professor of literature, the other plays the clinician, Miller, a
graduate in philosophy. Your epistemology, like your clinic, is nothing more
than waste products of an outdated and exhausted ideology, reflecting structures
of patriarchal and heterosexual domination that are forever out of date. We are
no longer the prisoners, the helpless hostages of your detestable ‘power-knowledge.’
The words that are our own are not intended to feed your critical nit-picking.
What you proudly call your “clinic” is nothing but a “human zoo”, worthy of
those where, in the days of the colonies, you exhibited the unfortunates that
you ruthlessly tore away from their free and wild life, so much more civilised than
yours, to make of them foreigners in their own country, natives, and finally circus
Conclusion: “You have only one thing to do:
shut up. And then, once you have repented, you will go to the school of the
trans, where you will finally learn who we are, which you have no idea about.
You will learn in what terms to address us, and with what ears to listen to us.
You will lose the habit of speaking for us. And you will turn your tongue seven
times in your mouth before contradicting us, because who knows better than us
what our experience is and what it feels like to be trans?”
well did I descend?”
“How well did I
descend?” Cécile Sorel's sentence, uttered one evening in the 1930s, has passed
into common usage. She had left the Comédie-Française for the Casino de Paris,
where, in her debut performance as vedette, she aimed this remark at
Mistinguett—the presiding star of the music-hall with “the most beautiful legs
in the world”—who was watching her jealously from the wings. Sorel had just coolly
descended the Casino’s grand Dorian staircase, which according to Google “has broken
more than one ankle and ended more than one light dancer’s career”.
And I – did I play the trans without a false note, without twisting
my light dancer’s ankle? Seeing as it is by dancing that it is suitable to
write, isn’t it, as both Nietzsche and, later, my dear friend Severo Sarduy
said, the Cuban darling of François Wahl, editor of Lacan at Seuil, who was a
faithful friend of mine before the dissolution of the École Freudienne in 1981.
If I were Mistinguett
now, and I if had to evaluate JAM's performance as a trans ventriloquist, I
wouldn't give him such good marks. Would a real trans say that the words of a psy
“stink of something rancid”? Yes, it’s a fact that many do stink. Where the
wind that Lacan blew on psychiatry and psychoanalysis did not sweep away the
miasma, it does not smell good, as Deleuze and Guattari said nastily about the
analyst's consulting room. But you have to be familiar with the place, as I am
and as Guattari once was, to allow yourself such profanity. It seems to me that
a real trans person would not say it in these terms. They’d be more polite.
Preciado enters the scene
The only proof of this is the height of vision
and rigour—a rigour which is admittedly a little stiff for my liking—with which
Paul B. Preciado (FtoM) addressed the audience gathered for the 49th
Study Days of the École de la Cause Freudienne. He made a commendable effort to
re-educate us, and to persuade us that psychoanalysis could only survive if we
took him and his friends as our guides and abandoned our reverence for a
patriarchy that had long since died and been buried without us even noticing. That
was just under two years ago. Preciado was so pleased with himself, if not with
us, that he immediately turned his lecture into a book, under a title inspired
by Kafka: Can the Monster Speak. Report
to an Academy of Psychoanalysts, a book
under the patronage of Judith Butler, the dedicatee, which was welcomed by
Olivier Nora at the prestigious Grasset publishing house that he directs.
Preciado can certainly be reproached for
having gone beyond the mutually agreed time of half an hour for his lecture,
which shortened the half hour intended for the improvised conversation he was due
to have on stage with two analysts delegated to him by the School. The exchange
lasted only eight minutes, against the clock. However, during this brief moment
that he conceded in fine, he was
truly encouraging for the profession: “I think that you will be able to keep your
place and the place that you have historically invented, as long as you will be
able to enter into dialogue with and be in relation to the present, with the contemporary
political radicalness”. A courteous invitation to an aggiornamento. The carrot after the stick. I think as you do: the
profession is a metro behind.
Your monster speech, the stick, you have read
it. A resounding, militant, impassioned harangue. You spoke to us as a master, an
imprecator, almost as a prophet. However, our colleague Ansermet, one of the
two members of the ECF charged with debating with you, a Lacanian psychoanalyst,
professor of child psychiatry in I don't know how many university and hospital
departments and services in Switzerland, author of I don't know how many books,
and the only foreign member of the French Ethics Committee, was able to welcome
your manifesto with warmth and equanimity: “Paul, thank you. Well, we knew you had
something to tell us!”
published your lecture afterwards without mentioning the concluding exchange with
Ansermet at all, that you let the sympathetic press present you as persecuted, cursed
and booed by an audience of snarling fools, I can understand (I can act Swiss
too, in my spare time, just as Ansermet can act French very well when he
wants). You have an audience of your own, and you mustn't disarm them too much by
telling them that you were received by attentive practitioners who were not in
the least aggressive towards you. The audience appreciated the goodwill you
showed in accepting our invitation, and warmly applauded your eloquence. There
were two or three hostile shouts, that's right, while your listeners numbered three
and a half thousand. And don't tell me that each person sees what they want to
see: the Journées of the ECF are always filmed.
cheated, Preciado. I'd say it would be fair enough if we were at war. But we're
not, even though it would fit you like a glove if we were, because you need Bugbears
and Bogeymen to animate your trans troupe, which is not all trans at all, but
the walking wing of a community that is creating itself precisely by moving
forward in a forced march.
those hopes, too. And the barbudos, there weren’t not many of them when
they brought down the dictator, Batista, in Cuba and installed the Castro family
in power, which is still there today, 1959-2021. So, anything is possible.
A dizzying demography
You know, Preciado,
that we, as analysts and psychiatrists, meet trans people by whatever name they
are called, more often than not, especially now that their numbers are
increasing, in accordance with the sacerdotal wording of the Pentateuch: “Be
fruitful and multiply”, from the verbs parah
and rabah (Genesis, I, 28). I will tell you straight away that on this point
my knowledge is new and comes from a recent article in the Nouvelle Revue théologique, by Father Maurice Gilbert (S.J.), former
rector of the
Pontifical Biblical Institute
He notes in
this regard that a rabbinic tradition holds that the injunctions given in Genesis I:28 are addressed only to men, in
other words, not to women. How on earth did they intend to “multiply”? I don't
know any more. It’s a riddle wrapped in a mystery.
whether by Basil or Gregory of Nyssa, adds to this binomial expression a third injunction:
“And fill the earth”. It cannot be said that the Jews benefited from these
recommendations. And even if they are sometimes credited with having a
stranglehold on the world, this is only a drop in the ocean—there are only 14 million
of them, while Muslims number 1.6 billion, and will be nearly 3 billion in
2050, making them the equal of Christians, who number 2 billion or so today. At
the same time, Jews will have grown by only 2 million. My figures are from 2010,
but the source is reliable (the Pew Research
intertwining”, as Foucault would have said.
As the demographics of the small “chosen people” decline, “the trans population”
are taking over and seem set to “fill the earth”. All the indicators point in
the same direction: more and more people in the world feel and say they are
trans. In France, we don't count them—not yet. Nevertheless, estimates were
made in 2011, which give the figure of 15,000 people identifying themselves as
transgender. In the US, on the other hand, they are counting and counting. Five
years ago, the US trans population stood at 1.4 million adults, or 0.6% of the
adult population. Five years earlier, in 2011, the figure was less than half
that, at 0.3%, or 700,000 people (I'm using the figures given in a 2016 New York Times article).
To get an
idea of what such a growth rate represents, let us compare, for example, the
French population. Knowing that the rate of increase of the latter is 0.4%, the
curve representing the Napierian logarithm of 2 allows us to know that in France,
at a constant rate, the population would take 173 years to double, whereas the
doubling of the trans-American population, for which we have reliable and detailed
data, is carried out, as we have seen, in only five years.
widespread feeling in the uninformed public of an “invasion”, an “epidemic”,
and the pernicious thesis recently spread in the French media by a certain bourgeois
academic authority, according to which there would be “too many” transgenders.
This is a biopolitical value judgement, formulated in a cookie-cutter way,
devoid of any scientific basis, and expressing a prejudice in an offensive form.
Does this mean that we should give the trans avant-garde
a free pass on its often triumphalist discourse? It suggests, to paraphrase
that trans is the future of man and of woman—of every which one of us,
trans person is nowadays often described as a hero of the new times for having brought
down the ancient patriarchy and its odious stereotypes in order to open up the
radiant path of gender autonomy for humanity. The non-trans, on the other hand,
appears as a shameful, inhibited or neurotic trans, denying through cowardice,
stupidity and transphobia, the becoming-trans
that would be the vocation of every human being. Surfing on the demographic
euphoria generated by the exponential growth in the number of trans people, the
actual reality of which we have seen above, the leaders of the trans
emancipation movement now tend to make statements that sometimes take the form
of what could be described as trans suprematism.
will say a word that will hurt: it is Schwärmerei.
The word is Kantian. It is untranslatable. It is variously rendered: enthusiasm
or spiritual exaltation, fanaticism, divagation, extravagance, or illuminism. Let
us come down to earth. Perhaps the following data will be more acceptable to trans
leaders when it comes from one of their own and not from a psychiatrist or a
professor of psychopathology. Let's read for example what Claire L. wrote (MtoF) on her blog at mobilisnoo.org in
reason we feel the need to keep count of trans people is primarily because this
population is at a much higher risk of suicide than the rest of the population,
and they require special medication and, in some cases, surgery”. She
adds: “Compared to cisgender adults, transgender adults are more than 3 to 6
times more likely to contemplate suicide, attempt suicide”. Finally, in the
interests of good public health management, she recommends “a conservative
estimate of the number of people affected. This volumetry [would also allow] adequate
administrative measures to be taken so as to be able to manage, within a
reasonable timeframe, the civil status changes necessary for a normal life for
transgender people”. This is a salutary reminder that not everything is rosy in
the land of trans people, and that before being activists of the trans cause,
they are simply people who are more fragile than others, more threatened, and who
The capture of hysterics
How can practitioners who
come from Freud refuse to listen to trans when they express the desire to be
listened to, which is not always the case? It is well known that Freud in his time
knew how to listen to these hysterical women whom the most attentive doctors considered
to be simulators and comedians. Charcot exhibited them in his little theatre at
his department at the Salpêtrière. Freud witnessed this, going to train with
him from October 1885 to February 1886. In the little rue Le Goff, in the Latin
Quarter—where, until the age of twelve, Sartre, Poulou of Words, spent
his childhood—a plaque at the Hôtel du Brésil commemorates the stay of the
young Austrian scholarship holder.
Back home, Freud did not emulate Charcot. He
did not open a Viennese theatre of hysteria. He received these women—and a few no
less hysterical men too—and began to listen to them one by one, in his little consulting
room, which has since become a place of historical interest. When he arrived quivering
to meet the discoverer of the unconscious, in 1921, the young André Breton was
horribly disappointed to discover “a house of mediocre appearance”, patients “of
the most vulgar sort”, and a practitioner whose modest figure of a “well-ordered
bourgeois” had nothing Dionysian about it (see Lacan, Écrits, p. 536). Let's be fair: thirty years later, Breton piteously
disavowed the account he had given of his visit, whose blindness he blamed on “a
regrettable sacrifice to the Dada spirit”.
For it was indeed from this place, which did
not look like much, that a movement was to start that would gradually spread
throughout the West and radically change the mores of our societies. It is in
fact, to the introduction of a new character in the human comedy, the
psychoanalyst—the very opposite of the “Master”, of whom one particular photo
of Charcot gives a caricatured representation, not unlike a painting in the
Bouville museum in Nausea—the
psychoanalyst and his practice of listening—which has nothing in common with
the judicial practice of confession any more than with the religious practice
of confession, with all due respect to Foucault of The Will to Know—that
we owe the disappearance from the entire surface of the globe of those great “hysterical
epidemics”, as psychiatrists called them, which made the headlines in the 19th
century. One of them, in 1857, the famous demonic possession of Morzine, a small
Savoyard village, was once the subject of a thesis in the Department of Psychoanalysis,
which I was once the director of at Paris 8.
However, in Freud's time there were no
militant groups or lobbies dedicated to the emancipation of hysterics, to their
empowerment. These women came to him
each their own volition, on their own account, and he welcomed them one by one,
face to face, and then he invented a practice in which they reclined. It wasn't
exactly “Arise ye prisoners of starvation! Arise ye wretched of the earth!” None
of the phenomena that characterise groups or masses, “crowds” as Gustave Le Bon
called them, interfered. This is not to say that Freud thought these phenomena
were outside the field he had opened up. He was to structure them in
metapsychological terms in his Massenpsychologie of 1921—which Lacan taught
us to read in 1964, in his Seminar on The Four Fundamental Concepts of Psychoanalysis. Later, during the events of May 1968,
Lacan opened up a new path with his invention of the discourse of the Master as
the other side or reverse of psychoanalysis, from which stems his idea
that “the unconscious is politics”, a very enlightening formula that has been
Lacan praises Freud for being “docile to the
hysteric”. I would like to be able to congratulate the practitioners of today
for being “docile to trans”. But is this the case?
To be continued
Philip Dravers, Pamela King and Peggy Papada
 [TN: A French variant of black sheep.]
 [TN: Jacques Lacan, Television: A Challenge
to the Psychoanalytic Establishment, (London & New York: Norton, 1990) p.
 [TN: In English in the original.]
 [TN. S3 (sujet supposé savoir),
S2K (subject supposed
 [TN. Cf. the Night of the 4th of
August 1789, and the abolition of feudal law in France on that day.]
 [TN: “They shall not pass”, answered in the
next sentence meaning “they have passed”.]
 [TN: “And yet it moves”, a phrase attributed to
 [TN: An induction course in French universities,
officially known as the classe préparatoires littéraire.]
 [TN: In English in the original.]
 [TN: “There is nothing better for a Peronist
than another Peronist”.]
 [TN: Due to be published by Fitzcarraldo
Editions on the June 2021 and by semiotext(e) in August.]
 [TN: The phrase (“curieux entrecroisement” in French) appears in
the opening paragraph of the Archeology of Knowledge, and again in the
first paragraph of his “Response to the Circle of Epistemology”, in the section
on “History and Discontinuity”.]
 [T.N. Cf. an axiom from Louis Aragon’s La Fou d’Elsa: “L’avenir
de l’homme est la femme”, ’“The future of man is woman”. Here JAM is
playing on the homophony that exists in French between the word for is ‘est’
and the word for and ‘et’.]
 [TN: Jean-Paul Sartre’s Autobiography.]
 [TN: Lyrics from “The International”, song of
the international workers movement.]