The American Psychiatric Association has revised its Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders and it no longer lists being transgender as a mental disorder, among other changes announced this past weekend.
Transgender people will now be diagnosed with "gender dysphoria," which means emotional stress related to gender identity."Gender identity disorder" had been listed as a mental disorder since the third edition of the DSM more than 20 years ago.
In an interview with The Advocate, APA member Jack Drescher explained the new revision, saying, "All psychiatric diagnoses occur within a cultural context. 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."
The classification of "transgender" as a mental disorder has been used in the past to prove that being transgender is a psychological problem that can be treated. In one case, the Associated Press cited over the summer, a transgender woman was at risk of losing the children she fathered before her transition.
"The argument is that one criteria for terminating parental rights is if one parent has a severe, chronic mental illness that might be harmful to the child," psychiatrist Dan Karasic told the AP. "A lawyer is apparently using that to argue that because the person is trans and has a diagnosis of GID, she should have her parental rights terminated."
Homosexuality was also considered a mental disorder by the APA until 1973. The DSM-5 is scheduled to be released in May of 2013.
Revisit Melissa's April discussion below about being transgender in America.