Pride 2021


The discipline of Psychoanalysis is handed down from generation to generation. So too is the history, meaning and celebration of Pride Month.  Jane Reid, PhD, a recent graduate of the Chicago Psychoanalytic Institute, is the author the 2021 Pride Essay.


Dennis Shelby, PhD



It is a fraught time in our civic life.  This last, difficult year has required us to confront the possibility that sadism and cruelty will continue to dominate public policy and public intercourse. The coronavirus pandemic and the malignant incompetence of the previous administration, the refusal of so many Americans to exhibit even the most basic form of decency, by, for example, adopting the simple practice of wearing a mask, has and should disturb us.  And yet, that is not all there is.  Through Mutual Aid networks, public protest, the desperate exercise of the vote, and many, many small acts of care, the degradation of our people and our public life has been resisted.

It is in this context that Pride month arrives.  Pride celebrates the Stonewall Rebellion, a rebellion led by trans and queer people of color who confronted chronic assaults by the police.  It reminds us of the power of community and affiliation to transform that which has been misunderstood and distorted into a part of the self that enlivens and sometimes glitters.  Pride is as necessary this year as ever.  We have all had to stay away from each other in the pandemic.  For some queer and trans people, this has meant being stuck at home with hostile families.  The loneliness of distancing from families of choice, who see you and love you as you are, has been desolate. Pride is an antidote to that.

The spectacle of a number of state legislatures criminalizing gender affirming medical care for trans kids and depriving them of access to participate in sports is particularly brutal. These policies run counter to the results of the empirical literature which makes clear that affirming the identified gender of trans kids conduces to health.  The induction of trauma as a form of social control is in evidence here.  Pride is one way to mitigate the effects of these policies and the damaging ideology that undergirds them; the force of pride can help people maintain strength and dignity.

Good psychoanalytic treatment is another. Isolated parents may turn to us as they struggle to understand and accept their child. Young people may come, summoning the courage to come out to their parents.  People needing to make sense of the world and their place in it, people of all ages mourning what has been lost in this long year, may turn to us.  Meaningful connection and the power it can galvanize are common to Pride and psychoanalytic treatment both.



Jane Reid, PhD