Susan Coates

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Susan Coates
Born1940 (age 83–84)
Academic work
InstitutionsColumbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons

Susan W. Coates (born 1940) is an American psychoanalyst, who has worked on gender dysphoria in children and early childhood trauma.[1]



Coates was Director of the Childhood Gender Identity Service at St. Luke's–Roosevelt Hospital Center from 1980 to 1997.[2] In 1997, Coates was founding co-director of the Parent-Infant Program at the Columbia University Center for Psychoanalytic Training and Research.[3]

Coates is on the teaching faculty as a Clinical Professor of Medical Psychology in Psychiatry at the Columbia University Center for Psychoanalytic Training and Research.[3] Coates is also on the faculty of the Columbia University Department of Psychiatry.[4]

After the September 11, 2001 attacks, Coates provided mental health services to children and their parents at the Family Assistance Center set up by Disaster Psychiatry Outreach at Pier 94 in New York City.[5]

Work on gender dysphoria[edit]

Coates was among a small number of psychiatrists and psychologists who were instrumental in establishing a pathologizing and reparative approach to childhood gender non-conformity.[2] Coates considered gender non-conforming children to be suffering from a severe mental disorder.[6] Coates and Kenneth Zucker described the mothers of feminine boys as being overbearing, and transferring unresolved psychological trauma to their children.[7] Coates described the mothers as anxious, controlling, and intrusive.[2] In this psychoanalytic model, the child experiences separation anxiety, and creates a fantasy of reuniting with the mother who was physically or emotionally absent.[7] These ideas echoed early theories on homosexuality that blamed mothers for the gender non-conformity of their children.[7]

Coates served on the American Psychiatric Association DSM-IV Subcommittee on Gender Identity Disorders.[8]

Role in Woody Allen custody trial[edit]

Coates provided therapy to Ronan Farrow between 1990 and 1992.[9][10] In 1993, in relation to the Woody Allen sexual abuse allegation, Coates testified in court that the behavior of Mia Farrow had become increasingly erratic.[11] Farrow's lawyer accused Coates of gullibility for having accepted Allen's version of events.[9]

Selected publications[edit]

  • Coates SW (1985). Extreme boyhood femininity: Overview and new research findings. In Ruth Corn, Zira DeFries, Richard C. Friedman, eds. Sexuality: New perspectives. Greenwood Press ISBN 978-0-313-24207-6
  • Coates SW, Person ES (1986). Extreme Boyhood Femininity: Isolated Behavior or Pervasive Disorder? J Am Acad Child Psychiatry. 1985 Nov;24(6):702–9.
  • Coates SW (1990). Ontogenesis of Boyhood Gender Identity Disorder. J. Amer. Acad. Psychoanal., 18:414–438.
  • Coates SW, Friedman RC, Wolfe S (1991). The Etiology of Boyhood Gender Identity Disorder: A Model for Integrating Temperament, Development, and Psychodynamics. Psychoanal. Dial., 1:481–523.
  • Zucker KJ, Green R, Coates S, Zuger B, Cohen-Kettenis PT, Zecca GM, Lertora V, Money J, Hahn-Burke S, Bradley SJ, Blanchard R. Sibling sex ratio of boys with gender identity disorder. J Child Psychol Psychiatry. 1997 Jul;38(5):543–51.
  • Coates SW, Wolfe S. Boyhood Gender Identity Disorder: The interface of constitution and early experience. Psychoanalytic Inquiry, 1995, 51:6–38.
  • Coates SW, Moore MS. The complexity of early trauma: Representation and transformation. Psychoanalytic Inquiry, 1997, 17:286–311.
  • Coates SW, Rosenthal J, Schechter DS, eds. (2003). September 11: Trauma and Human Bonds. Hillside, NJ : The Analytic Press. ISBN 0-88163-381-X
  • Coates SW, Schechter DS. 2004. Preschoolers' Traumatic Stress Post-9/11: Relational and Developmental Perspectives. In. Psychiatric Clinics of North America. Disaster Psychiatry: A Closer Look. Edited by Craig Katz, M.D. and Anand Pandya, M.D. 27, 3, 473–489.
  • Coates SW (2005). Having a Mind of One's Own and Holding the Other in Mind: Commentary on Paper by Peter Fonagy and Mary Target (1998). Mahwah, NJ: Analytic Press.
  • Coates SW, Gaensbauer TJ. 2009. Event Trauma in Early Childhood: Symptoms, Assessment, Intervention. Child and Adolescent Psychiatric Clinics of North America Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health. Editors are Mary Margaret Gleason and Daniel S. Schechter. 18(3):611–26.


  1. ^ Bryant K (2006). Making Gender Identity Disorder of Childhood: Historical Lessons for Contemporary Debates. Sexuality Research & Social Policy, 3(3), 23–39.
  2. ^ a b c Lev, Arlene I. (2019). "Approaches to the Treatment of Gender Diverse Children and Transgender Youth". In Lev, Arlene I.; Gottlieb, Andrew R. (eds.). Families in Transition: Parenting Gender Diverse Children, Adolescents, and Young Adults. New York, NY: Harrington Park Press, LLC. ISBN 978-1939594297.
  3. ^ a b "Susan Coates, Ph.D." Columbia University Center for Psychoanalytic Training and Research. Columbia University. Retrieved 2023-09-23.
  4. ^ "Susan Coates, PhD". Columbia University Department of Psychiatry. Columbia University. 9 February 2017. Retrieved 2023-09-23.
  5. ^ "Trauma in Children; Considerations for Care After Hurricane Katrina: An Expert Interview With Susan Coates, PhD". Medscape. October 10, 2005. Archived from the original on April 28, 2021. Retrieved September 6, 2021.
  6. ^ Lev, Arlene Istar (2004). Transgender Emergence: Therapeutic Guidelines for Working with Gender-Variant People and Their Families. New York, NY: Routledge. p. 17. ISBN 978-0789021175.
  7. ^ a b c Spurlin, William J. (March 2019). "Queer Theory and Biomedical Practice: The Biomedicalization of Sexuality/The Cultural Politics of Biomedicine". Journal of Medical Humanities. 40 (1): 7–20. doi:10.1007/s10912-018-9526-0. PMC 6373286. PMID 30073625.
  8. ^ Bradley SJ, Blanchard R, Coates SW, Green R, Levine SB, Meyer-Bahlburg HFL, Pauly IB, Zucker KJ (1991). Interim report of the DSM-IV Subcommittee on Gender Identity Disorders. Archives of Sexual Behavior Volume 20, Number 4 / August, 1991
  9. ^ a b Grimes, William (1993-03-31). "Farrow's Lawyer Takes Aim at Doctor's Judgment". The New York Times. Retrieved 2023-09-23.
  10. ^ Marks, Peter (1993-04-04). "Therapists in Allen Case Often Seem Like Family". The New York Times. Retrieved 2023-09-23.
  11. ^ Marks, Peter (1993-03-30). "Doctor Recounts Threats By Farrow Against Allen". The New York Times. Retrieved 2023-09-23.

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