Queer Theorist

Queer theory is a feminist field of study that goes beyond Lesbian and Gay Studies to explore those who live on the outskirts of Gayle Rubin’s charmed circle. To clarify, while many LGBTQ+ people have reclaimed “Queer” from the trash-heap of derogatory terms, some LGBTQ+ people still dislike the term, especially when it doesn’t fit their conceptualization of self.

It is important to understand that the LGBTQ+ community is not a monolith. Sexuality and gender constructs differ, not only between national, racial, and ethnic cultures, but also with every new generation within said cultures. Furthermore, as being Queer is distinct from being a sexual or gender minority, more than a few heterosexuals also identify as Queer because of their connection to a particular sadomasochistic or poly-amorous practice or subculture.

To be Queer, in its simplest definition, is to have a sexual or gender identity afield of the norm, which makes Queer Theory a broad study of social micro-groups. In this light “competency” as an advocate, educator or as a mental health professional, is not an outcome but a lifelong dedication to multicultural mindfulness. Personally, I equate being a Queer Theorist to being a bohemian anthropologist, studying history’s outliers and social prototypes.

Queer Theory generally contests taxonomies of sex and gender, yet language naturally forms our relational frames, shaping how we conceptualize and categorize ideas. This is why so many of us can begin to feel stuck in personas we’ve outgrown, or trapped in social norms we don’t adhere to. You can find a lot of my thoughts on gender, alongside tips on how therapists can effectively help transgender and nonbinary people, in my book ACT For Gender Identity: The Comprehensive Guide, as well as my ongoing Psychology Today blog Queer Counselor.    

I love discussing all the complex layers of sexuality and gender, and I’m glad to carry this endless conversation with anyone wanting a guest for their blog or podcast.

Selected Publications

The Cat & the Cloud: ACT for LGBT Locus of
Control, Responsibility, and Acceptance

Aug 30, 2014  Journal of LGBT Issues in Counseling

Abstract: Advocating acceptance, committed action, and value-guided behavior over experiential avoidance, Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) may aid lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) clients affected by hetero/homonormative social pressure. By conceptualizing LGBT paradigms of internal/external control/responsibility (IC-IR; EC-IR; IC-ER; EC-IR), ACT may be adapted to a myriad of multicultural worldviews. This article presents locus of acceptance as the attributed worth of internal/external cues perceived necessary by the client to achieve self-acceptance. Recognizing visibility and isolation as recurrent LGBT issues, locus of acceptances balances identity as individual (internal acceptance) with identity as community (external acceptance).

Disclosure: A Guide for Sexually Open Counselors

Feb 10, 2013 HoHonu, Vol. 12

Abstract: A counselor’s professional code of conduct perceives value imposition as unethical; a paradox when one’s very identity maybe deemed immoral to certain populations. To further the point, modern perspectives of sexuality include within their conceptualization a value scheme of social acceptance, forbearance, and tolerance. Indeed Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer (LGBTQ) and even Sex Positive mental health practitioners must handle the issue of self disclosure with great care. While a professional’s private life is most certainly their own, sexual extroversion remains a core dilemma for both LGBTQ and Sex Positive counselors and the sensitivity of their clients. How to handle such disclosure can be quite precarious, and a certain level of flexibility and concession is recommended for all professional parties involved, including the counselors and the agencies who hire them. This essay examines not only the legal complexities of self disclosure, but also the potential outcomes of initial disclosure, advertent disclosure, requested disclosure, inadvertent disclosure, and the perils of violent and sexual targeting.

Gender Ego: Comparative Models of
Transgender Identity Acquisition

Feb 10, 2013 HoHonu, Vol. 12

Abstract: Since many individuals continue to explore their conceptual selves
throughout their adult lives identity acquisition is by no means a
chronologically linear struggle. Though evident in the heterosexual cisgender
populace, identity acquisition is a key issue for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual,
Transgender and Queer (LGBTQ) individuals, and especially for gender-variant individuals contending with restrictive socio-schemas. In order to normalize and demystify transgender emergence, this essay critically compares development stage models of gender-variance (Lewins, 1995; Rachlin, 1997; Ekins, 1997; Lev, 2004) with Habermas’ (1979) psycho-social stages of ego development.

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