American Psychiatric Association drops Gender Identity Disorder from manual

GLAAD says announcement is a 'historic change' but trans advocates are concerned about the definitions that remain in the manual of mental disorders

American Psychiatric Association drops Gender Identity Disorder from manual
04 December 2012

The American Psychiatric Association (APA) announced on Saturday that its manual would no longer list ‘Gender Identity Disorder’.

But the new, fifth edition of Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM V) will include ‘Gender Dysphoria’, which it describes as ‘a marked incongruence between one’s experienced/ expressed gender and assigned gender’.

The Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) released a statement describing the announcement as a ‘historic change’ and instructed the media to ‘acknowledge that "Gender Identity Disorder" (GID) – as well as the idea that trans people are automatically "disordered" – are now antiquated ideas among healthcare professionals’.

GANDA Filippinas, a trans women’s advocacy group in the Philippines told Gay Star News that while they welcome the removal of Gender Indentity Disorder (GID) from the manual, the remaining definitions relating to trans people are ‘not exactly something to cheer about’.

‘The removal of GID merely shifts diagnosing trans-identities as a mental disorder to highlighting the distress brought about by one’s sex assignment at birth, which will be known as Gender Dysphoria (GD),’ said GANDA Filippinas founder Naomi Fontanos

The removal of GID from APA’s manual is one of the demands of the Stop Trans Pathologization campaign, but the campaign also asks that APA drop GD from the manual. 

Campaigner Kelley Winters from GID Reform Advocates said in a blog post in June that ‘the [APA’s] proposed Gender Dysphoria criteria continue to contradict social and medical transition by mis-characterizing transition itself as symptomatic of mental disorder’. 

The US’s National Center for Transgender Equality executive director Mara Keisling told LGBTQ Nation yesterday that the APA’s announcement was an ‘amazing step forward, and while not perfect, is a huge improvement for diagnosis and treatment’.

The removal of GID from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, which was last published in 1994, can be compared to when APA stopped listing homosexuality as a mental disorder in 1973.

DSM V has been approved by the APA’s board of trustees and will be published in May 2013.

In a statement APA said the process of revising the manual has spanned over a decade and included contributions from 1,500 experts in psychiatry, psychology, social work and related fields from 39 countries.  

‘We believe that DSM V reflects our best scientific understanding of psychiatric disorders and will optimally serve clinical and public health needs,’ said APA President Dilip Jeste.

‘Our hope is that the DSM V will lead to more accurate diagnoses, better access to mental health services, and improved patient outcomes.’

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