Wednesday, August 8, 2012

APA Removes Transgenderism as 'Mental Illness'

Finally.  2012 marks the year when the APA (the American Psychiatric Association) has officially replaced the term "Gender Identity Disorder" with "Gender Dysphoria."  This means transgender is no longer categorized as a mental illness.

The U.S. now joins Canada, Great Britain, the Netherlands, France, the Scandinavian countries, and several others that have already changed their official policies.

The change will have an impact in legal cases and legislation, and is being hailed as a huge step forward for trans rights not just in the states, but potentially in other countries as well.  For better or worse it cannot be denied that America is influential; this includes its medical associations, whose policies do have an influence on the policies of medical associations in other (less progressive) countries.

In the fall of 2011, the European Parliament passed a resolution calling on the World Health Organization to stop classifying transgender persons as mentally disordered.  (Transgenderism is "on the books" in the ICD as an illness, though hardly any credible psychiatrists consider it as such any more.)  WHO already earmarks so-called GID (gender identity disorder) as gender dysphoria, and the next revision of the ICD will be released in 2015.  It is widely expected that WHO will officially remove GID once and for all.

It's amazing to note that even as recently as 1990, homosexuality was classified as a mental disorder in the ICD.

The classification of transgender persons as mentally ill denies freedom and equal opportunity to those who live between the two binary categories.  In places where they are still officially labeled 'disordered' or 'confused,' trans persons are often disrespected by the medical profession, their employers, their families, and, of course, the law.

The negative stigma surrounding gender dysphoria is a rotten leftover from the Victorian era and has no place in modern science.

The definition of transgender includes:
  • Persons who were assigned a sex, usually at birth and based on their genitals, but who feel that this is a false or incomplete description of themselves; i.e. the feeling of being born in the wrong body/the wrong sex.
  • A person who does not conform unambiguously to conventional notions of male or female gender roles, but combines or moves between these.
  • Non-identification with, or non-presentation as, the sex and assumed gender one was assigned at birth.
Transgender is not a sexual orientation and does not imply any specific orientation.  It refers to one's gender identity and expression.

For further details, please visit the APA's information on gender identity.


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