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Why Do You Ask?The Function of Questions in Institutional Discourse$
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Alice Freed and Susan Ehrlich

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780195306897

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: February 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195306897.001.0001

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Pursuing Views and Testing Commitments

Pursuing Views and Testing Commitments

Hypothetical Questions in the Psychiatric Assessment of Transsexual Patients

Chapter:
7 Pursuing Views and Testing Commitments
Source:
Why Do You Ask?
Author(s):

Susan A. Speer

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195306897.003.0007

This chapter, written by Susan Speer, considers the role of hypothetical questions (HQs) in interactions between psychiatrists and transsexual patients in a British gender identity clinic. The psychiatrists studied in this chapter perform a gatekeeping function vis‐à‐vis their transsexual patients in that they must diagnosis the patients as true transsexuals before the patients can receive publically funded sex reassignment surgery. Speers argues that the psychiatrists use hypothetical questions in this context as a diagnostic tool, specifically, as a way of testing the patients' commitment to a sex change. In particular, the psychiatrists use HQs to construct hypothetical scenarios about the negative consequences of treatment and query the patients as to how they would “feel, behave, or cope” given such a scenario.

Keywords:   hypothetical questions, transsexual, gender identity, gender identity clinic, gatekeeping, hypothetical scenarios, diagnostic tool, psychiatric assessment

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