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Colette Chiland vs. transgender people

Colette Chiland was a conservative French psychiatrist and anti-transgender activist. Chiland was the French equivalent of Susan Bradley, Stephen B. Levine, Jon K. Meyer, and other conservative psychiatrists with rigid disease models of gender diversity that got imposed on clients in the form of gatekeeping models of care.

Widely reviled by sex and gender minorities, Chiland faced escalating protests in later life as Chiland’s conservative beliefs were discredited.


Chiland was born on September 16, 1928 in Paris. As a teenager, Chiland wanted to become a psychiatrist, but family members objected. Chiland was a National Education teacher in a girls’ high school in Marseille. Chiland then earned a medical degree in 1954 and a degree in philosophy at 27. In the 1960s Chiland worked as a child psychology assistant to Jean Piaget at the Sorbonne and then served as a child psychiatrist from 1963 to 1995. Chiland was professor of clinical psychology from 1970 to 1992 at Paris Descartes University University. In 1970, Chiland received a doctorate from the Sorbonne.

Chiland died in Paris on September 16, 2016.

Anti-transgender activism

In the 1990s Chiland began weekly consultations at the Hôpital Fernand-Widal gender clinic. Chiland’s goal was to make clients “accept their anatomical sex.” Years of extensive gatekeeping led Chiland to publish Le transsexualisme in 2003 and “Dialogue between gender and sex” in 2013.

Chiland believed that Judith Butler’s proposal to abolish gender distinctions is part of “ethnocentric” propaganda, which Chiland compared to Nazi ideology.

After the publication in 1997 of Changing Sex (ed. Odile Jacob), Colette Chiland, to her great astonishment, became the target of a projective hatred that would not yield despite her intellectual efforts to engage in a reasonable dialogue. Enraged people will come to persecute her to her home, and she will have to resolve to transform (it is the case to say it) what could have remained an academic dispute into a trial in court.

Trans community responses

In March 2005 longtime Chiland critics OUTrans, Groupe Activiste Trans’ – GAT, and ACT UP Paris disrupted a conference Chiland was attending.

Today, about twelve activists of Act-Up Paris and of the Groupe Activiste Trans’ (GAT) interrupted a conference organized in Sainte Anne and reserved for psychiatrists, registrars in psychiatry, psychologists, students in psychology and other care providers in mental health. They were entending to protest against psychiatrization and hatred exerted on transgender (transsexual and transgender) people by organizers of this conference. We wanted to confront our expertise to the one they impose us but the organizers preferred to call upon participants to leave the room from our entrance. Answering to our invectives on the fact we were not invited, Thierry Gallarda, one of the co-organizers, asked us in an exaspered tone: “Are you Psychoanalyst/Psychiatrist?”

This colloque was excluding volontarily the most legitimate experts of trans’ issue: trans’ themselves. Psychiatrist speak in trans’ stead, psychiatry stigmatises trans’ as the presentations of general aims of this “clinical seminar” demonstrate it. We announce that will be entered “gender identity disorders alternatively linked to the field of psychosis” or also “the temactic of taking action and perversion”. If you ask to shrinks, trans’ don’t exist out of their presumed mental health systemic disorder.

This seminar was co-organized by Colette Chiland, specialist of hatred toward trans’. In her books (Changer de sexe, her “que sais-je” about transsexualism), she shows her worse commonplaces about gays and trans’? “an attack to foundations of our civilization” according to her. “One can’t use the opposition transsexual man/transsexual woman because one doesn’t know who want to say what”. She writes about one of her patients “he focussed attention by presenting him self as a foil”. And is this that model the university offers to its students.

For Colette Chiland “the idea of sex change is a mad idea”. This seminar is the application of this appalling prejudice. To shrinks, we can exist only as mad, perverted, depressed. We keep on showing what we are: angry with views full of hatred.

We require:

from Collette Chiland, to be silent; 
the trans’ issue is removed from psychiatric field; 
the trans’ take part to seminars approaching this topic, and to work groups for 
improvement of access to care and their management. 

Translated into english by Marlène Riwkeh Mèges and Karine Solène Espineira of the Groupe Activist Trans’ (Paris, France). 

Note of reading of “Que Sais-je” by Colette Chiland. 

Published on 3rd October 2003 in Action 90 

Colette Chiland has watered down her wine but her discourse is always as naff and full of hatred. 

Since her full of hatred “Changer de sexe”, and undoubtedly faced by the reactions her book has given rise in the gay community, Colette chiland has watered down a little her wine (of mass). This opuscule published in the ultra-classic range of books “que sais-je”, does not reproduce the reactionary horrors against homosexual marriage and the rights given to transsexuals (“an attack on foundations of the civilisation”) of her previous works. Caution … 

But the machine to produce discrimination and exclusion that is Colette Chiland is still working, just better oiled. Some compassionate schmatz to sugar the discrimination pill : “Some advocate acceptancy of child’s behaviour (…) others think on the other hand the child is tormented, and not only in accordance with background’s intolerance; on the other hand transsexualism is a so distressing condition that it would better to avoid appearance.” 

Colette Chiland challenges the trans’ basic request to be called by their adopted gender: a person living as a woman is a transsexual woman, for someone living as a man, we must say a transsexual man… Colette Chiland’s quotation “to talk about transsexuals, physicians said transsexual men for males, transsexual women for females. But transsexals protest and make the opposite choice: the males because they are women in their eyes say they are transsexual women; the females say they are transsexual men. We cannot use the opposition transsexual men – transsexual women anymore because don’t know who want to say what anymore”.” 

Sadistic enjoyment 

Recurring in her book, hypocrital usage of “one”, here hides the fact that for her ladyship Chiland and other specialists of trans’ it is a sadistic pleasure to address trans’ according to their biologic gender and not to their social gender. Furthermore, Colette Chiland lies by writing “the physicians said” : she knows very well Robert Stoller1, from the years 50 advocated physicians adress trans’ and talk about them in their new gender. 

So Colette Chiland minimizes the number of homosexual trans’ (who love same social gender partners). “they are very fiew, most often they are transvestites”. From does she have her statistics ? As for her outline of homosexuality, they are worthy of the homophobic priest and shrink Tony Anatrella : “It is not a denial of his assigned sex which leads subjects to be homosexual. On the other hand, we could say that it is a refusal to face up completely the sexual difference, with all its effects”. And just to revive the old “its against nature”, she writes, regardless of contemporary zoology, “But it does not exist in the animal an homosexuality to be compared to that of human, as a choice of exclusive object”.

The unhappy familiar to Colette Chiland’s papers will find her old hobby horses on trans’ who identify themselves to the most outdated stereotypes of femininity or masculinity. Everywhere in the world, trans’ organizations fight for the right to work, if you ask her, typic trans’ want to be a cabaret artist or housewife ! In so little pages, we have quite a lot of padding (her outline of feminism is to be in stitches) and enormous blunders (the institution of “hijras” of India would date back to one millennium while they are attested in a book founder of Hinduism the Bagavagita). More serious is her taste for discriminatory vocabulary, for example to describe one of her practices : “I understood I let myself trap by his off putting, fearsome appearance, not because he would be a caricature of woman, an untalented [t****y] : he was nothing, neither man, nor woman : he was focussing attention by presenting himself as a foil to relationship.” Obviously her Ladyship Chiland’s patients are like her readers, they are to be pitied ! 

As a conclusion, an unanswerable affirmation of medical institution’s Brigitte Bardot : “I go to think noneless the idea of sex change is a mad idea.” The mad idea for the range of books “Que sais-je” is to have given to write up a work about transsexualism to a so naff and full of hatred woman. 

Translated into english by Marlène Riwkeh Mèges and Karine Espineira of Groupe Activiste Trans’ – GAT (Paris, France).


Constant, Jacques (2016). Colette Chiland, 1928–2016. L’information psychiatrique 2016/10 (Volume 93), pages 852 à 853 -

Bourrat, Marie-Michèle; Raynaud, Jean-Philippe (2017). Colette Chiland, une pionnière de la psychiatrie et de la psychanalyse de l’enfant et de l’adolescent. Neuropsychiatrie de l’enfance et de l’adolescence, vol. 65, no 1,‎ février 2017, p. 1-4

Selected anti-trans works by Chiland

Chiland, Collette (1988). [Childhood and transsexualism] Psychiatr Enfant. 1988;31(2):313-73.

The author suggests substituting “sexuel” and “sexue” in French for the distinction made in English between “sex” and “gender”.

In all fairness, no one can speak of transsexual or transvestite children as has been done in the past, but only of feminine or effeminate boys and tomboy girls. When samples of such children have been followed longitudinally, one realizes that an extremely small number of them becomes transsexual, becoming for the most part homo- or bi-sexual, though some become heterosexual. Treating these children and their parents seems very important to everyone, given how hard it is to treat adult transsexuals.

Chiland, Collette (1990). Homo psychanalyticus. In Psychologie d’aujourd’hui (ISBN 978-2-13-042637-0 et 978-2-13-070228-3présentation en ligne [archive]).

Chiland C. Transvestism and transsexualism. Int J Psychoanal. 1998 Feb;79 ( Pt 1):156-9. Clinique a l’Universite Rene Descartes, Paris. PMID: 9587819

Chiland C. The psychoanalyst and the transsexual patient. Int J Psychoanal. 2000 Feb;81 ( Pt 1):21-35.

  • Spritz M. Responses to Collette Chiland’s ‘the psychoanalyst and the transsexual patient’. Comment on: Int J Psychoanal. 2000 Feb;81 ( Pt 1):21-35. Int J Psychoanal. 2001 Apr;82(Pt 2):390-91; author reply 391-2.

Chiland, Collette (2003). Le transsexualisme, Presses Universitaires de France. « Que sais-je ? » ISBN 978-2-13-053675-8 et 978-2-13-059590-8présentation en ligne [archive].

Chiland, Colette (2003). Transsexualism: Illusion and Reality. [English translation] SAGE Publications ISBN: 0826467725

Chiland, Colette; Alcorn, David [translator] (2005). Exploring Transsexualism. Karnac Books ISBN: 1855753324

Chiland, Collette (1997). Changer de sexe: Illusion et réalité. Odile Jacob ISBN 978-2-7381-2451-7.

Chiland, Collette (2011). Les mots et les réalités. L’information psychiatrique 2011/4 (Volume 87), pages 261 – 267.


Wikipedia (