Researching for LGBTQ Health

Cultural Representations of Gender in Psychiatric Narratives

The project identifies as its primary objective the examination of the interpretative nature of psychiatry in relation to gender, sexuality, race, and class within the particular time and place of one urban, Canadian, clinical psychiatric setting (for a detailed account of the study purpose and methodology see Daley et. al., 2012). To date, the project includes a retrospective review of twenty-five (25) women’s in-patient charts; five (5) charts each from the following programs: women’s, schizophrenia, mood disorders, geriatrics, and women and law. Of particular significance to the conceptualization and methodology of the research project are feminist, critical race, and post-colonial understandings of the interconnected nature of gender, sexuality, race, and class, and related structures of oppression. The project centres gender (femininity) as a focus of analysis by identifying, as one of its objectives, an analysis of women’s psychiatric in-patient charts. However, it presumes multiple femininities as they are produced by intersections between gender (femininity) and sexuality, race, and class. Multiple femininities include hegemonic femininity (e.g., ideal, dominant femininity) that is conflated with heterosexuality, whiteness, and middle-class status as well as the marginalised femininities of subordinated sexualised, racialised, and classed groups. Future work will include a review of men's psychiatric in-patient charts to facilitate:

  1. Exploration of how psychiatric narratives (re)produce and sanction particular femininities as idealized/marginalized and particular masculinities as hegemonic/marginalized;
  2. Understanding of how psychiatric discourses and documentation organize gender relations between women and men;
  3. An investigating of the role of psychiatric institutions and mental health providers in organizing gender relations among women and men (i.e., construction and reinforcement of different femininities and masculinities);
  4. A building upon and supporting of psychiatric consumer/survivor (C/S) movement critiques that seek to challenge institutionalized oppressions related to mental distress and gender, sexuality, race, and class and question psychiatry’s regulatory powers.


  • Principal Investigator: Dr. Andrea Daley
  • Co-Investigators: Lucy Costa and Dr. Lori Ross

Project Outcomes: