The newest edition of the psychiatric diagnostic manual will do away with labeling transgender people as “disordered.”
The newest edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, or DSM, will replace the diagnostic term “Gender Identity Disorder” with the term “Gender Dysphoria,” according to the Associated Press.
For years advocates have lobbied the American Psychiatric Association to change or remove categories labeling transgender people in a psychiatric manual, arguing that terms like “Gender Identity Disorder” characterize all trans people as mentally ill. Based on the standards to be set by the DSM-V, individuals will be diagnosed with Gender Dysphoria for displaying “a marked incongruence between one’s experienced/expressed gender and assigned gender.”
“All psychiatric diagnoses occur within a cultural context,” said Jack Drescher, a member of the APA subcommittee working on the revision. “We know there is a whole community of people out there who are not seeking medical attention and live between the two binary categories. We wanted to send the message that the therapist’s job isn’t to pathologize.”
Homosexuality was diagnosed in the DSM as an illness until 1973, and conditions pertaining to homosexuality were not entirely removed until 1987. According to Dana Beyer, who helped the Washington Psychiatric Society make recommendations on matters of gender and sexuality, the new term implies a temporary mental state rather than an all-encompassing disorder, a change that helps remove the stigma transgender people face by being labeled “disordered.”
“A right-winger can’t go out and say all trans people are mentally ill because if you are not dysphoric, that can’t be diagnosed from afar,” Beyer told the AP. “It no longer matters what your body looks like, what you want to do to it, all of that is irrelevant as far as the APA goes.”
From a legal perspective, the classification of Gender Identity Disorder is extremely harmful to some trans people, but surprisingly beneficial to others.
In one legal case, says San Francisco psychiatrist Dan Karasic, a trans woman from Utah risks losing the children she fathered before her transition. Because she is trans, a lawyer has argued that her GID is a “severe, chronic mental illness that might be harmful to the child.”
But in other cases, a GID diagnosis justifies insurance coverage for gender reassignment surgery and other medical procedures that sometimes accompany a transition. Having a diagnosis is the difference between a necessary medical procedure and something that can be perceived as cosmetic surgery that insurance won’t cover, Drescher says.
Others argue that GID should stay in the DSM in some form because it provides a solid legal defense for transgender people who have experienced discrimination based on their gender identity.
“Having a diagnosis is extremely useful in legal advocacy,” said Shannon Minter, legal director of the National Center for Lesbian Rights. “We rely on it even in employment discrimination cases to explain to courts that a person is not just making some superficial choice … that this is a very deep-seated condition recognized by the medical community.”
Mental health professionals who work with trans clients are also pushing for a revised list of symptoms, so that a diagnosis will not apply to people whose distress comes from external prejudice, adults who have transitioned, or children who simply do not meet gender stereotypes.
I understand that there are legal issues that brought this to a change but it has further confused what has always been a very black and white issue in my life. A recent conversation with the person who runs the local transgender program at our pride office here left me further confused. This was the description of transgender offered by this person.
Well, for example, for me, I do not identify as male or female. I identify completely outside of the spectrum of male or female and the way I think about my gender changes a lot from day to day. I am not confused about how i identify, it just changes frequently. I consider myself trans* masculine and genderfluid because I typically identify and present myself more masculinely, but I do not identify as “male”. I never want to go on hormone therapy or get genital altering surgeries, but I would like to get top surgery and have a flat chest.
This description of being transgender really has me confused more than I thought I could be on the subject. but we have fallen under the umbrella of more and more different forms of transgenderism,now to include people who Identify as genderqueer and genderfuck,and on and on it seems who ever is outside the LGB spectrum is now included as transgender.I thought my issues were confusing enough as they were but now my once black and white issues is more confused than ever.
On the negative side, the proposed diagnostic criteria for Gender Dysphoria still contradict social and medical transition and describe transition itself as symptomatic of mental illness. The criteria for children are particularly troubling, retaining much of the archaic sexist language of the DSM-IV that pathologizes gender nonconformity rather than distress of gender dysphoria Moreover, children who have socially transitioned continue to be disrespected by misgendering language in the diagnostic criteria and dimensional assessment questions. There is very plainly no exit from the diagnosis for those who have completed transition and are happy with their bodies and lives. In other words, the only way to exit the GD label, once diagnosed, is to follow the course of gender conversion/reparative therapies, designed to shame trans people into the closets of assigned birth roles. While supportive care providers will continue to make the diagnosis work for their clients, intolerant clinicians will exploit contradictory language in the diagnostic criteria to deny transition care access and promote unethical gender conversion treatments.
This person ask me to describe what I thought being transgendered was I referred to the diagnosis given me by my therapist,apparently the professionals don’t keep up with what the people in the LGBT community describes as transgender And I’m not what I thought I was at all I’m mixed up now more than ever,I thought I and the professionals treating me had a handle on my identity but now I’m not sure any more.
Living somewhere in la la land a confused Butterfly