With about 3/4 of my natural life behind me, I sense the urgency to have some impact on the quality of life for those still in the sunrise phase of their life. As parents, we instinctively adopt this frame of mind, probably due to newfound perspective. I wish to address the DSM “bible”…as in “collection of books”, that when a dispute arises, seems to have standing legally and otherwise to essentially drop the gavel as it renders its “final decision”.
The DSM came into existence in 1952, a compilation of statistics from hospitals, strongly influenced by the a U.S. Army manual that chronicled disorders. The battle against same-sex and transgender inclusion in the military is now in the history books—this year (2011) we have seem the apparent dismissal of same-sex policies relative to recruitment. The policy prohibiting transgender recruitment remains unchanged.
As I read the history of the DSM, the Christian “bible” as a comparison, comes to mind for reasons I will mention below. There have been at least 5 major revisions of the DSM Manual since its inception. Relating to the LGBT community, the primary alteration is concerning the inclusion of a same-sex relationship as a mental disorder for years followed by a reversal that resulted in its removal in 1986. A mental disorder that “was” ceased to be—just like that.
With every revision, comes new terminology, new elements of each disorder and minutia to further support each disorder. As trans females, regardless of where we are in the transition timeline, we all know the high price we have, are, and will pay directly as a result of the contents of the DSM relating to what is now called “Gender Identity Disorder”. Our personal successes range from legacy status to any possible human status or condition found within all segments of society—many of which are falsely attributed to this “mental disorder”. We know that the first thought of those close to us, is to state that we are “sick”. Of course as in “mentally sick”. This has been my experience which is not unique—the result of the trickle-down fallout from what is contained in the DSM.
Most of the lay persons who make this extremely hurtful statement, particularly when stated to our children, are not really schooled or have direct knowledge of the DSM. However their contacts, if followed, ultimately point all the way back to the DSM. It need not be said how costly this is—measured in loss of productivity to country and in loss of many lives…so many that we celebrate their memory perennially.
This brings me full circle to the “religious” bible. Within our ranks exist persons of all possible characteristics and beliefs. For Christians as myself, we revere the Christian bible with at least the belief that it serves as guidance toward an end goal, as wisdom for living peacefully amongst all people, and contains within it the story of an infallible person with a divine nature. The purpose of this paper is not to proselytize, although that would be a noble calling.
I wish to draw attention to this: there have been “revisions” to the mainstream bible relating to translation due in large part to knowledge gained from the meaning of Greek and Hebrew. The Catholic bible and the Protestant bible differ in what is contained. However, they both have remained essentially the same. There are no additions or removals. In fact it contains a warning for those who would do so.
A not-so-final thought
My last thought is this: if the DSM is so accurate in its diagnosis, so critical in swaying professionals in reaching decisions that affect our lives down to the family level…as it adds this and takes away that…as it changes terminology and redefines terminology…wherein lies its credibility? If it has been used in the past as “biblical authority” relative to sex and gender, as it has, and self-acknowledged its errors as it did with homosexuality and other “disorders”, such to the extent that it exceeds “mere” revision…would we who are Christian still revere our bible if it had demonstrated such a propensity to be unfaithful and unreliable? I know that we would not…indeed the consistency of its content throughout the ages gives it the credibility so necessary toward developing faith.
I leave you with this…
If you ask me, my honest view is that, notwithstanding the positives of the DSM…it has proven to be without true credibility. Sure the argument can be well made that it is the “best we have”…that it is a tool that has descended from a phobic military stance toward those of us categorized as “other”. This stance is not part of the policy of the military in many “Western” nations. Indeed our neighbor to the north stands as a noble example proving that expectations of competent job performance can never be based on personal attributes alone. If you ask me, it is the DSM that needs its own diagnosis. From my point of view, it should be classified within the mental disorder called Schizophrenia.
Wherever our journey toward equality takes us, wherever we are in our “transition”, we are all grouped together or close together within the DSM. I am not schooled in organization or sales. I am not and never intend to be a college graduate. I have never acquired the need to do so as many of you have and for that I commend you! indeed my last “degree” attained is a high school diploma. My voracious appetite to read clearly serves me well however in my ability to articulate my thoughts—-but one thing is clear—the DSM is mostly foe, not friend.
If the DSM can't get it objectively correct, it has to go…
Somehow and somewhere, through our own doing or from supporters, the need for a fair and objective manual based on 2011 studies, not on WWII military dogma that considered us as sex or gender nonconforming “deviants” must come into fruition. If not in our lifetime, at least that of the children. We know that our trip to the therapist is to rule out a mental disorder, which then follows by lifetime visits to our doctors. We know that if truly a Gender Identity incongruence condition were a bonafide mental disorder, our meds would be prescribed from a psychiatrist. Mine never have and unless the DSM gets it correct this time, maybe one day they will. This is what we face. END of “speech”.