Cognitive Psychology in the Context of Intersex and Trans Identities

Ishika Saxena
Symbiosis School for Liberal Arts

Abstract

Gender and sexuality are central questions of identity, as they have been throughout history. Non-binary gender communities as well as queer communities have a long history of struggling for recognition and rights. This paper looks specifically at two identities: intersex and transgender. Michel Foucault argues that knowledge is power. Essentially, this argument expounds that knowledge is not objective. Rather, it is produced by the existing system of power and exists in order to perpetuate this existing system. Therefore, the knowledge portrayed as “objective” really exists in such a manner as to reinstate an existing power system and reproduce hierarchy in society. Patriarchy is one of the central power structures prevalent in society today. The knowledge produced as a result, caters to this structure of power. It reasserts a binary gender structure, positing the ‘male’ as the center and the ‘female’ as the periphery. Identities such as intersex and transgender, which exist beyond this binary structure are seen as complete outliers. This paper assessed the power structure explained by Foucault, as reproduced by the methodology of cognitive psychology as a discipline. Most scholars working in the field of cognitive psychology reduces gender and sexuality to fundamentally ‘biological’ and therefore ‘intrinsic’ and ‘objective’ domains. The methodological limits of such a reductionist science do not allow for inclusion of various identities.

Keywords: Gender, Sexuality, Intersex, Transgender, Cognitive Psychology