23/02/2022 | Writer: Yıldız Tar

Yıldız Tar wrote about the mental health field’s approach to LGBTI+s from religious dogmas to “scientific” phobias: The fight over whether the Church or science will name LGBTI+s does not last long. The state which learns and gains strength from the fight of both, finds the answer in law.

Let psychologists and psychiatrists come out to LGBTI+s   Kaos GL - News Portal for LGBTI+

With respect to the cherished memory of Mahmut Şefik Nil/Gözüm Abla  

“There was nothing left to do to regain my self-confidence, to understand that my situation is not  terrible and I’m not alone in this field to get rid of self-disgust.”[1]  

In Andre Gide's cult work Corydon, the protagonist begins to tell his story with these  sentences. Don’t mind me calling that a story, he invites the reader and the listener whom he  looks through the eyes of the reader, to listen how he refuted all the labels of deviance and  perversion one by one which fastened on him, not the Corydon story. We follow the story not  through Corydon's eyes, but through the eyes of a well-known friend who went to visit his old  pal. This book, where the narrator is not Corydon, is also a manifesto that calmly and logically explains all the inconsistencies in the approach of psychology and natural science to  homosexuality, how and why these inconsistencies are used to pervert and abnormalize  homosexuality.  

Although almost a century has passed since this book, which was secretly published in pieces  from 1911 to 1920 and fully published in 1924, Corydon is still have an important role for us  to understand that the scientific method is not as impartial as it claims, but rather wears the  myth of neutrality on it like a shield. The fact that Corydon, which Gide called "my most  important work" and his friends warned him by saying "this book will do you the greatest  harm", was translated into Turkish with the "Perverted Love" addition in the 90s shows the  importance of the book to us.  

Corydon is Andre Gide's defense in a way. Corydon is an attempt to gain his power back in a  period that sexuality and gender bureaucrats engage in a feverish classification, the main  purpose of this classification is to sicken both the performance and the identity by 

transforming certain kinds of acts into pathological identities, to achieve dominance over the  act and identity at the rate of sickening, and this dominance with practices that torture it  under the name of “treatment”. Corydon and maybe Andre Gide want to regain his self confidence. The method he chooses for this is a range of Socratic conversations.  

So, for Corydon and perhaps Andre Gide, who are those who lived through it, what are they?  How was Corydon disgusted by himself? The answers to these questions lead us to sexuality  and gender, which is the subject of this article, and how the field of mental health, which is  motivated by the ideal of regulating and unifying natural and cultural diversity, has turned into  a kind of training and education tool by going beyond its own field.  

Sexuality and gender classification delusions  

A few decades before Corydon was written, the late 19th century was the culmination of  sexuality and gender classification delusions. Claiming that there is an inseparable link  between sexual act and gender, thus patriarchy and heterosexism; the sexuality bureaucrats,  who are enthusiastically committed to being scientific tools for cooperation to maintain the  binary gender regime, what basically do is “to identify and categorize all kinds of uncontrolled  movement and strangeness”.[2] In 1868 in Germany, Károly Mária Kertbeny suggested the  term homosexual, an initially unpopular term, as the exact opposite of “normal-sexual". In the  same year, Richard von Kraft-Ebing, in his Psychopathology of Sexuality, mentions four basic  categories: psychosexual hermaphrodites (he also said bisexual), homosexuals (separating  them as innate), effeminates and viraginities, and androgens.[3] This classification of Kraft Ebing will continue with the throwing of all gender identities and sexual orientations other  than cisgender gender identity and heterosexual sexual orientation into the "homosexual"  bag, which will be used as an umbrella term in the following years, and labeling this discarded  bag with disease. Such that, even after the World Health Organization's turning back of this  pathologizing trend on May 17, 1990, Kraft-Ebing is still one of the names used as a  justification for torture called "reparative therapy”.  

In the same period, Karl Heinrich Ulrichs brought this bureaucratization to the top. First he  divides the world into three: men, women, and urnings. He divides the urnings within itself.  There are only two categories that define in Ulrich's scheme: heterosexual men and 

heterosexual women. Gregory Woods, in his book Homintern, draws attention to the  exemption from categorization by asking: “What are they? How should they be categorized?  What exempts them from categorizing?”[4]  

The power of naming from definition to diagnosis  

This question, asked by Woods almost a century after his delusions about classifying sexuality,  leaves us with two truths. The first of them is no scientific curiosity at all behind psychology’s  categorisation of sexuality. Psychologists, who take the the modernizing world a step forward,  have other motivations than their efforts before they set out. This leads to present what the  religious dogma says in another cover and packaging. Isn't it interesting how those who set  out to avoid and get rid of religious dogma and the power of the dogmatic order to regulate  the social and personal, arrive at the same conclusion that religious dogma has reached by  calling it sodomy in other ways? What is the difference between Thomas Aquinas's placing  "unnatural immorality" in the highest rank among the sins of lust in 1264, describing wasted  sperm as the greatest sin after murder[5], and categorization pioneer spirits and naturalists to  make them pathological? No doubt there is a difference. This difference is hidden in the  points of reference and the contrast of the aspects of their era about the relationship between  performance and identity. However, when we look at the results they reach, we are talking  about a difference that perhaps becomes meaningless or at least insignificant.  

The second truth is about the effort to define itself. What do we need to define? Naturalists  and psychologists who almost long to possess the position of the God of the Catholic Church  by claiming to be neutrally free from all power relations, have now invented a new way of  governing, against the Church’s power of governing by spacing out: To rule each blank by  naming them, without allowing spaces. Naming gives a great power to an individual. Perhaps  what lies behind our desire to name everything about human is to reinvite the power of the  parent who first named the newborn child. Just as the fight whether the mother or father will  give the newborn its name, the fight between the Church or science to name the LGBTI+s does  not last long. The state, which learns from the fight of both and becomes stronger, finds the  answer in law. Sodomy in church law finds a place for itself in the laws of modern states, this  time equipped with the power to punish with the power given to it by the spirit and natural  science in the modern period. Just as in Ottoman Shari law, the act of homosexuality, which is 

the local equivalent of sodomy, was defined as “crossing the line” and was among the crimes  committed against Allah, in Church law it is found as a crime against God and his creation;  being cisgender and not heterosexual is a crime against nature in modern and secular legal  systems as well. The antecedents of the concept of ‘bestiality’ regulated in the Turkish Armed  Forces disciplinary law in Turkey is an issue that lies at the basis of religious and modern legal  norms, which seem to work in opposition to each other. It is science itself that carries this  hostility from the religious world to the modern world.  

The path from “scientific” studies to international homosexual conspiracy  The knowledge produced to be an anomaly will very quickly contribute the construction of  homosexuality as a national security problem in the coming years. For those chasing an  "international homosexual conspiracy," homosexuals are natural agents, a community with a  hidden agenda to invade the public sphere. The conspiracy attributed to homosexuals to have  relationships that cross nationality, class and borders, unlike other citizens of their own  nation; it formed the basis for the genocide of both Jews and homosexuals in World War II  with the alliance of homophobia and Anti-Semitism when necessary. When necessary, it finds  a place in 1952 with the words "by the nature of their bad morals, they belong to a Universal  that is malicious, mysterious and active…" in the US Senate's report on the "Employment of  Homosexuals and Other Sexual Deviants”. In both cases, the fact that legitimizes these  decisions and practices in both the genocide and the mass layoffs of homosexuals, is science  itself and the psychologists whose names we have mentioned above. For example, in the  report of the US Senate, there is a clear emphasis on “Respected psychiatrists”[7]. In  summary, this approach of mental health is not limited to that field. The foundations of states'  construction of 'homosexuality' as a national security issue in the 1900s lie precisely in this  pathologization that mental health produces under the name of knowledge. The result of  attempts to legitimize criminalization by science led to the search for an "international  homosexual conspiracy" at that time. 1950, violation of the right to work with the document  'Employment of Homosexuals and Other Sexual Deviants' issued by the US Senate is also  based on these so-called ‘research'; In each of the examples such as half "psychological" half  “legal" interwoven mechanisms dating back to the pre-genocide in Germany, historical  alliances of homophobia and anti-semitism, organization, potential danger, the threat to public order, one after another paranoias and bending of truth, these so-called ‘researches’  create a reference point.  

The past is never just the past, although it is a historical narrative, going from the myth of  natural secret agents to the discourse of deviants which very quickly invaded public life.  History is not a matter of closing one page and starting another; the patterns of the past  determine our present. Isn’t the myth of unusual sexual perversions created by the  persistence and stubbornness of early psychology studies, effects the marking of LGBTI+s as  Western agents, as a phenomenon that is not from us, as a contrarian to our culture and  traditions?  

Traumatized queers  

After all this historical journey when we turn back to the beginning, to the effort of Corydon,  we can understand a little more about how and why LGBTI+'s self-confidence and power were  taken away from them, and with which tools this process was formed. The sum of these  mechanisms, where the boundary between defining and diagnosing can always be thin, is not  an issue that only affects Corydon. During the interviews in our oral history study Patikalar, we  had the opportunity to see first-hand how the intervening decades and the dirty history of  psychology and psychiatry affect LGBTI+s today. The narratives of the queers who share their  archive of feelings with us, was so similar in one way to the narratives of Gide's Corydon.  Corydon's loneliness is similar to Yeşim Başaran’s. While Corydon wants to show that he is not  alone in this field, Yeşim asks if there is another like her for years:  

“Gosh, I said. I am an ordinary person, how can such a thing happen? Because two types of  people came to my mind. Strange, neither fish nor fowl, criminally unreliable people in the  back streets of Beyoğlu; or poets, writers, that is to say such intellectual people. By the way, I  don't know if I'm thinking both at the same time or how. Maybe I’m thinking one by one. But I  think like, an ordinary person cannot be gay. So I thought maybe it wasn't me. Because I am  an ordinary person. Then I was sure of myself. So I know how I feel after all. But I said, I guess  there is another one like me in this world. Then I can't have a girlfriend because another  woman can't fall in love with me, so I was thinking something like that I’ll live alone in this  world.”[8] 

On the other hand, Corydon's reaction against keeping his life hidden with secrets is similar to  Umut Güner's relationship with curtains:  

“Living in that conservative city, you're doing the thing… We closed the curtains while we had  sex at home with our neighbor's son. Because the curtains are closed when you have sex. By  the way, if you go and see our house in Yozgat, right across forestland. Why is the curtain  closed in such a place? Of course, my mother understood me through the codes she had  memorized. Later on she had an intervention that I had to hide it, that I should not experience  it, that this should not happen. When I was eleven, twelve years old she gave a proper speech  without going to the psychiatrist. She spoke calmly that I should not experience this, that this  is a situation that should not be experienced. I understand at that point; well, even if I’m  experiencing this, I don’t close the curtain but must creating other curtains.”[9]  

All these mechanisms also aim to feel LGBTI+s ashamed of themselves. For example, one  hundred years after Corydon, a young trans girl, Buse Kılıçkaya, entered a psychiatrist's room  in Ankara, ashamed of herself:  

“We are in Doctor Didem's room, but how ashamed I am, I mean, there are people who have  committed major crimes, I sit like that and listen to them, she said, "Just wait a minute, relax.  What is the situation?” I said, this is how I am; so I'm very happy with that too. It's just my  family's overreaction to this that makes me very sad and depressed. Many times I wanted to  change, but I couldn't, it just doesn't work. I've tried everything, it doesn't work. She said that  there is nothing to change.”[10]  

Not everyone is that lucky, though. Today's representatives of homophobic psychologists and  psychiatrists of the 1900s take steps that will even drive Yasemin Öz suicide, an 11-year-old  lesbian girl who struggles with the shame, loneliness, fear and anxieties which created by the  discipline they belong to:  

“It was very clear to me when I was 11 years old. Falling in love with a woman, feeling love was  very clear. But it was a very scary thing. It was unacceptable. This situation disturbed some of  my teachers in the school administration. They also took me to the psychiatrist by showing my  excessively naughty, exuberant and unruly behavior as a reason, they did things to me that  my family didn’t do. There was no one I could share my teenage crisis with in any way. There  was no one to share my search for identity, my desire to define myself. I think I went through 

depressive periods in my adolescence. It was a serious interrogation, collision and fear for me.  I realized that I am not a person suitable for this system. And I was in great fear. I even tried to  commit suicide as a backup. I’ll say so. It was a difficult adolescence for me.”[11]  

What to do?  

So what can psychologists and psychiatrists do today in the light of all this history? It is an  important start to get rid of the reflex of definition and actually diagnosis, in which Lucien von  Römer, another name we did not mention at the beginning of this article, developed a model  that proposes 687,375 variations in the gender and sexual spectrum. The people’s, who has  been tried to defined by the whole world, ability to take their own power into their hands,  precisely is all about writing their own story and being able to define themselves as needed.  Isn't that why we say that the statement is essential?  

Being aware of the attitudes and skills towards LGBTI+s and facing our own LGBTI+phobias, in short, pointing the mirror at ourselves is another step. Defining the problem through the heterosexist system, not LGBTI+s, is another step to transform not only the therapy room but all the spaces we are in.  

Supporting LGBTI+ rights is not a position, it is a set of actions that are repeated consistently.  At the very beginning of these actions, it is perhaps necessary to talk about how psychologists and psychiatrists will come out to LGBTI+s, against the approach that has traditionally made diagnosing LGBTI+s and seeing how LGBTI+s "coming out" as the main concern. The way to do  this is through the words of Psychologist Mahmut Şefik Nil, aka Gözüm Abla, one of the  initiators of the fight for equality of LGBTI+s in the field of mental health, one of the founders  of Kaos GL:  

“In my freshman year of university, I had diagnosed everyone around me. When years passed  and I graduated, I asked, 'What am I going to do now?’ Almost nothing about homosexuality and transsexuality is taught in psychology education. Therefore, you have to learn after  graduation.”  

And in order to learn, it is necessary to admit that we do not know in the first place… 

*This article was produced with the financial support of the European Union. Its contents are the sole responsibility of Kaos GL Association and do not necessarily reflect the views of the European Union.


Tags: human rights, health