APA modifies Gender Identity Disorder diagnosis

Published: December 5, 2012

Advocates welcomed the American Psychiatric Association’s decision on Saturday to remove Gender Identity Disorder from its list of mental disorders.

The APA specifically removed GID from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manuel (DSM) of Mental Disorders and replaced it with Gender Dysphoria.

The organization, which represents more than 36,000 psychiatrists from around the world, has revised the DSM five times since it was founded in 1844. The latest revision process began 15 years ago.

Transgender activist Dana Beyer, who worked on the task force that wrote the new language the APA adopted with the Washington Psychiatric Society, said the removal of GID from the DSM is comparable to the organization’s declassification of homosexuality as a mental illness in 1973.

“What we did in that workgroup and what other activists have been pushing for is reconceptionalizing the state of being trans from a mental illness,” she told the Washington Blade. Beyer added this change will have implications for children who see a therapist for GID to trans activists fighting against what she described as “fundamental opposition” in state legislatures. “We are no longer mentally ill and that has huge implications just as it did for homosexuality in 1973. It’s absolutely game-changing.”

Michael Silverman, executive director of the New York-based Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund, said opponents of trans rights often used the term “disorder” as a “weapon to deny transgender individuals equal rights and equal treatment.” Doctor Jillian Weiss of Ramapo University in New Jersey agreed as she described the DSM revisions as a “step in the right direction.”

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