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American Psychiatric Association to remove term ‘gender identity disorder’ from manual

Monday, December 3, 2012

ARLINGTON, Va. — The American Psychiatric Association has voted to eliminate the term “gender identity disorder” and replace it with “gender dysphoria” when diagnosing people who are transgender.

The board of trustees of the APA, meeting in Arlington, Va. on Saturday, approved the change as part of the soon-to-be-published 5th edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) — the definitive guide to psychiatry used by mental health professionals in the U.S. and worldwide.

The new terminology marks a significant change in the professional nomenclature referring to the transgender community, which had been classified as suffering from a mental disorder.

Mara Keisling, the founding Executive Director of the National Center for Transgender Equality, told LGBTQ Nation on Monday that the trustees action was an “amazing step forward and while not perfect, is a huge improvement for diagnosis and treatment.”

LGBT blogger and political analyst Zack Ford noted that “until now, the term ‘gender identity disorder’ has been used to diagnose people who are transgender.”

“For conservatives, this has provided rhetorical carte blanche to describe the entire trans committee as disordered, delusional, and mentally ill. In some cases, this diagnosis has even been used to discriminate against trans people, with claims that they are unfit parents or employees, as examples,” said Ford, writing for Think Progress.

A potential shortcoming of the APA decision is that insurance companies have been more willing to cover the expenses associated with transition under the former language, because treatment for a disorder is considered medically necessary, rather than cosmetic.

Homosexuality was similarly declassified as a mental disorder in 1973 by the APA after significant lobbying efforts by gay rights pioneers Dr. Frank Kamney and Barbara Gittings.

The DSM, published by the American Psychiatric Association, is an enormous tome that defines every mental disorder. The new definition will diagnose transgender people with “gender dysphoria; the emotional distress that can result from a marked incongruence between one’s experienced/expressed gender and assigned gender.”

The change will allow for affirmative treatment and transition care without the stigma of “disorder.”

The APA’s governing board earlier this year had released new health guidelines for transgender patients, and an accompanying “position statement” that specified affirmation for proper care and civil rights.

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18 more reader comments:

  1. about time

    Posted on Monday, December 3, 2012 at 5:03pm
  2. Normal is NOT listed in mth DSM…….

    Posted on Monday, December 3, 2012 at 5:04pm
  3. Finally.

    Posted on Monday, December 3, 2012 at 5:06pm
  4. I don’t agree with this… The rates of abuse among those that feel they are transgender is far too high to justify the overt removal of this diagnosis. There is genetic and FMRI Tests that can be done to discover if it is truly biological or psychological, so making it out that all people that feel they were born the wrong gender should have access to surgical procedures is not a healthy thing… ESPECIALLY considering how transition doesn’t usually “Fix” the depression, hostility, and other remains of the original trauma that causes them to feel this way in the first place. I’ve never seen/heard a person that projects such overt hostility than Rene, the poster-child for the Transgender Community. If you’re going to remove Gender Identity Disorder from the diagnostic texts, you should remove Body Integrity Identity Disorder, too, and allow those that feel they were born one armed people in a two armed body to have their limbs removed. How dare we judge them? All they need is surgery and they will be “Complete”. Right?

    Posted on Monday, December 3, 2012 at 5:13pm
  5. They would do well to shut the whole DSM down!

    Posted on Monday, December 3, 2012 at 5:14pm
  6. Everyone read the article, I hope. They’re not so much eliminating the term as they are replacing it with “gender dysphoria,” dysphoria’s etymology meaning “difficult to bear.”
    Mental disorders being defined as they are, as conditions making it difficult for the patient to get along in their environment, is dysphoria even a better term? Dysphoria refers to depression and discontent.


    Posted on Monday, December 3, 2012 at 5:17pm
  7. i didn’t know that was in there at all.. sad

    Posted on Monday, December 3, 2012 at 5:21pm
  8. One label is never enough.

    Posted on Monday, December 3, 2012 at 5:29pm
  9. - There does need to be no uncertain definition that gender dysphoria is more than a feeling – I keep getting the urge to call it gender dysmorphia, which is more to the point of being in the wrongly-gendered/sexed body+frame – luckily the ‘nonfunctional’ body dysmorphic disorders are already well-stated as disorders themselves. The main semantic concern that I have about this is that other groups who term their own conditions (such as Body Integrity Identity Disorder) as physical dysphorias will try to leverage the word to cover affirmative treatment for themselves, and thereby (slippery-slopewise) trivialize gender dysphoria by exaggeration and lack of functional benefit, leading to generalized denials of coverage. Any time something is referred to as a feeling of distress, it unfortunately does invite the “my distress is just as valid” bandwagon, without actually having generally-recognized standards of what /is/ valid, serious, and/or not caused by some other psychological condition or displacement.

    Posted on Monday, December 3, 2012 at 5:33pm
  10. Maryann- The issue with this diagnosis was the assumption of binary genders, something we know is untrue with fluid human sexuality. Having limbs is not a social construct so comparing the two is illogical. Someone suffering trauma that creates pain associated with a gender does not mean their gender confusion should be targeted as irregular in regards to others but instead that they would be simply diagnosed with whatever trauma afflicted them. Youre taking a relative gain in the direction of making medical/psychological diagnoses unbiased and androgynous and basing your assumptions of potential problems on the potential disorders of some extremists. Hopefully psychology will continue to recognize the fact that humanity does not prefer binaries. And hopefully people will realize that sometimes the problem is bizarre social demands and not rely on the humble beginnings of brain imagery to decide someone’s fate.

    Posted on Monday, December 3, 2012 at 5:44pm
  11. Make ur appointment today :) check my site out

    Posted on Monday, December 3, 2012 at 5:58pm
  12. Will there still be ways to get surgery covered by insurance without a diagnosis?

    Posted on Monday, December 3, 2012 at 6:20pm
  13. Replacing disorder to diagnosis is complete bigotry I think both should be eliminated completely.

    Posted on Monday, December 3, 2012 at 6:39pm
  14. Yay~! More terms! <3

    Posted on Monday, December 3, 2012 at 7:10pm
  15. ‘TIS ABOUT TIME!!!!!!

    Posted on Tuesday, December 4, 2012 at 2:04am
  16. Did they discover that it was a figment of their Imagination, Or did they Finally find a Drug that makes you have Heterosexual urges . Hahaha i mean you got to laugh about..sry about the poor grammer. Mea Copa.

    Posted on Tuesday, December 4, 2012 at 2:54am
  17. yay!

    Posted on Tuesday, December 4, 2012 at 8:38am
  18. About F’N time…. Dr F A Earle (MD PhD)

    Posted on Tuesday, December 4, 2012 at 9:54am