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Gender Identity Disorder Diagnosis Is Quietly, Without Much MSM Notice, Going Away

The Gender Identity Disorder (GID) diagnosis is still going away, but it hasn’t been reported much in mainstream media (MSM). When the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Version 5 (DSM-V) is printed in 2014, the GID diagnosis for adults and children will be gone, replaced with the Gender Dysphoria diagnosis.

The Guardian mentioned the change this week in their article Asperger’s syndrome dropped from psychiatrists’ handbook the DSM (emphasis added):

In other changes to the DSM, abnormally bad and frequent temper tantrums will be diagnosed as DMDD, meaning disruptive mood dysregulation disorder. Supporters say it will address concerns about too many children being misdiagnosed with bipolar disorder and treated with powerful psychiatric drugs.

The term “gender identity disorder”, for children and adults who strongly believe they were born the wrong gender, is being replaced with “gender dysphoria” to remove the stigma attached to the word “disorder”. Supporters equated the change with removing homosexuality as a mental illness in the diagnostic manual decades ago.

Here’s where the one real thing of note about this DSM change from GID to Gender Dysphoria from that The Guardian article (emphasis added):

The revisions come in the first major rewrite in nearly 20 years of the diagnostic guide used by psychiatrists in the US and other countries. The changes were approved on Saturday.

However, many of us known this about GID to Gender Dysphoria change coming for DSM-V for awhile. There was a July 23, 2012 article by the Associated Press entitled Transgender advocates seek new diagnostic terms which included the following:

The most symbolic change under consideration so far for the manual’s fifth edition, known as the DSM-V for short, is a new name for “Gender Identity Disorder,” the diagnosis now given to adults, adolescents and children with “a strong and persistent cross-gender identification.”

In the manual’s next incarnation, individuals displaying “a marked incongruence between one’s experienced/expressed gender and assigned gender” would be diagnosed instead with “Gender Dysphoria,” a term that comes from the Greek word for emotional distress.

Switching the emphasis from a disorder that by definition all transgender people possess to a temporary mental state that only some might possess marks real progress, according to Dana Beyer, a retired eye surgeon who helped the Washington Psychiatric Society make recommendations for the chapter on “Sexual and Gender Identity Disorders.”

“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 said. “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.”

The was a July 23, 2012 article in The Advocate entitled DSM-V To Rename Gender Identity Disorder ‘Gender Dysphoria’ which stated this:

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.”

Then that The Advocate article adds context to this story of GID being replaced by Gender Dysphoria:

“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.”

Times are changing. With the new law in California where it becomes illegal on January 1st of next year for licensed therapists to practice reparative therapy (therapy meant to convert gays to straight) on minor youth, there is a continuing movement to depathologize lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people’s lives.

The news The Guardian reported on GID going away as a diagnosis — with the emphasis from the AP article that the gender dysphoria of trans people isn’t “a temporary mental state” — is an acknowledgement that the American Psychiatric Association believes trans people’s lives and human experiences are within the bounds of human gender diversity, and trans people’s lives and trans people’s human experiences aren’t intrinsically disordered.

And when it comes to marching forward on civil rights based on gender identity and gender expression, as well as just an acknowledgement that trans people live authentic lives, that’s a good thing.

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Autumn Sandeen

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