Gender Without Identity

In Gender Without Identity (Unconscious in Translation Press, 2023), psychoanalysts Avgi Saketopoulou and Ann Pellegrini challenge the argument widely embraced by rights activists and many members of the LGBTQ+ community that gender identity is innate and immutable. Saketopoulou and Pellegrini chart another path towards the flourishing of queer and trans life. Positing that the idea of an innate core gender identity is simplistic, problematic, and, even, potentially harmful to LGBTQ+ people, they instead argue that gender is something all subjects acquire. Trauma, they provocatively propose, sometimes has a share in that acquisition. In their way of thinking, lived trauma as well as structural and intergenerationally transmitted traumatic debris may become a resource for transness and queerness. Such a suggestion importantly counters conservative accounts that identify trauma as disrupting or “warping” some putatively “normal” gender. Rooted in the work of French psychoanalyst Jean Laplanche, in queer and trans of color critique, and in the authors’ extensive clinical experience with queer and trans people, Gender Without Identity presents a radical theory of gender formation and its ongoing mutations.

About the speakers

Avgi Saketopoulou is a clinical psychologist and a practicing psychoanalyst. She is on faculty at the NYU Postdoctoral Program in Psychotherapy and Psychoanalysis. Her published work draws from her extensive clinical experience with trans children and their families and has received numerous prizes, including the Ralph Roughton Award from the American Psychoanalytic Association. An interview with her is in the holdings of the Freud Museum in Vienna, and her monograph, Sexuality Beyond Consent: Risk, Race, Traumatophilia, was published by New York University Press earlier this year.

Ann Pellegrini is Professor of Performance Studies & Social and Cultural Analysis at New York University, and a psychoanalyst in private practice. Their books include Performance Anxieties: Staging Psychoanalysis, Staging Race (Routledge, 1997); Love the Sin: Sexual Regulation and the Limits of Religious Tolerance, co-authored with Janet R. Jakobsen (New York University Press, 2003); and “You Can Tell Just By Looking” and 20 Other Myths about LGBT Life and People, co-authored with Michael Bronski and Michael Amico (Beacon Press, 2013). Pellegrini is the founding co-editor of the “Sexual Cultures” series at NYU Press.

Saketopoulou and Pellegrini received the first Tiresias Paper Award from the Sexual and Gender Diversity Studies Committee of the International Psychoanalytical Association for their co-written work. A revised version of that work forms the heart of their co-authored book, Gender Without Identity (Unconscious in Translation Press, 2023).


This event is co-sponsored by the Department of Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, Barnard College.


ASL Interpretation will be provided. For additional accessibility needs please email

This is an in-person event, free and open to all. Please review our COVID safety guidelines. Registration is preferred.


Sep 28 2023


6:30 pm - 8:30 pm

Formats (virtual, in person, hybrid)



Barnard College - The Milstein Center


Barnard College
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