(crossposted in several places, and people are welcome to forward this on freely to others in the transgender and GLBT communities, as I see this as being very serious — Mercedes)

A short time ago, I’d discussed the movement to have “Gender Identity Disorder” (GID, a.k.a. “Gender Dysphoria”) removed from the DSM-IV or reclassified, and how we needed to work to ensure that any such change was an improvement on the existing model, rather than a scrapping or savaging of it.

Lynn Conway reports that on May 1st, 2008, the American Psychiatric Association named its work group members appointed to revise the Manual for Diagnosis of Mental Disorders in preparation for the DSM-V.  Such a revision would include the entry for GID.

On the Task Force, named as Sexual and Gender Identity Disorders Chair, we find Dr. Kenneth Zucker, from Toronto’s infamous Centre for Addictions and Mental Health (CAMH, formerly the Clarke Institute).  Dr. Zucker is infamous for utilizing reparative (i.e. “ex-gay”) therapy to “cure” gender-variant children.  Named to his work group, we find Zucker’s mentor, Dr. Ray Blanchard, Head of Clinical Sexology Services at CAMH and creator of the theory of autogynephilia, categorized as a paraphilia and defined as “a man’s paraphilic tendency to be sexually aroused by the thought or image of himself as a woman.”

Drs. Blanchard, Zucker, J. Michael Bailey (whose work has even gone so far as to touch on eugenics) and a small cadre of others are proponents of dividing the transsexual population by sexual orientation (“homosexual transsexuals” vs. “autogynephilic”) and have repeatedly run afoul of the World Professional Association for Transgender Health (WPATH, formerly HBIGDA), and openly defied the Standards of Care that WPATH maintains (modeled after the original SoC developed by Dr. Harry Benjamin) in favor of conversion techniques.  Blanchard and Bailey supporters also include Dr. Alice Dreger, who re-stigmatized treatment of intersex, controversial sexologist Dr. Anne Lawrence, and Dr. Paul McHugh, who had set out in the begining of his career to close the Gender Clinic at Johns Hopkins University and has been one of our most vocal detractors.

An additional danger that gay and lesbian communities need to be cognizant of is that if Zucker and company entrench conversion therapy in the DSM-V, then it is a clear, dangerous step toward also legitimizing ex-gay therapy and re-stigmatizing homosexuality.

I am not familiar with others named to the Work Group.  It would be worthwhile looking into any history with WPATH that they might have, to know if we have any positive advocates on board, or just more stigmatizing adversarial clinicians.  They may be appointed primarily to address other listings categorized as “Sexual and Gender Identity Disorders,” I don’t know.  They are:

  • Dr. Irving M. Binik, McGill University, Montreal, Canada
  • Dr. Peggy T. Cohen-Kettenis, VU University Medical Center, Amsterdam
  • Dr. Jack Drescher, New York Medical College, St. Luke’s-Roosevelt Hospital Center, NY
  • Dr. Cynthia Graham, Isis Education Centre, Warneford Hospital, Oxfordshire, UK
  • Dr. Richard B. Krueger, NY State Psyciatric Institute and Columbia University, NY
  • Dr. Niklas Langstrom, Karolinka Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden
  • Dr. Heino F.L. Meyer-Bahlburg, Columbia University, NY
  • Dr. Robert Taylor Segraves, MetroHealth Medical Center, Cleveland

The APA press release states that for further information regarding this, to contact Rhondalee Dean-Royce (rroyce@psych.org) and Sharon Reis (sreis@gymr.com), though it’s possible that they may govern the press release only, rather than have any involvement in the decision to appoint Zucker.  The APA itself is headquartered at 1000 Wilson Boulevard, Suite 1825, Arlington VA, 22209.  Their Annual General Meeting is currently being held (May 3-8, 2008) in Washington, DC.

I’m poorly situated (Western Canada, with no travel budget) to lead the drive for this, which I see as a very serious danger to the transgender community.  So I am calling on the various Transgender and GLBT organizations to band together to take action on this, and will assist in whatever way that I and AlbertaTrans.org can.

I am also calling upon our allies and advocates in the medical community and affiliated with WPATH to band together with us and combat this move which could potentially see WPATH stripped of its authority on matters regarding treatment of transsexuals.

— Mercedes Allen, May 5, 2008

13 thoughts on “uh-oh.”

  1. Some follow-up information:

    I’ve sent an email to Dr. Douglas Haldeman, who is on the Board of Directors for the APA and has been their point of consultation on GLBT issues. In the past, and under his recommendation, the APA has opposed reparative therapies ( http://psychology.ucdavis.edu/rainbow/html/resolution97_text.html ) and clearly stated the harmful effects of such “conversion” treatment ( http://psychology.ucdavis.edu/rainbow/html/facts_changing.html ). Dr. Zucker’s usage of “ex-gay” methods to treat children — as well as his and Blanchard’s continued defiance of the standards of care set out by WPATH should be effective points of concern for the APA, there.

    Nerissa was also kind enough to forward the information on to a Board Member of the Gay and Lesbian Medical Association (GLMA was involved in the discussions that had “homosexuality” delisted as a “mental illness” in the early 1970s), who is a mental health expert working for the US Dept. of Health and Human Services.

    I suspect that the APA was primarily ill-informed about Dr. Zucker and company, and hope that this can be overturned in short order, before damage can be done.

  2. thank you so VERY MUCH i have cross posted this on our blog as well, thank dear one for the links, and allowing us to disseminate this important information

    YOU ROCK ! I am a newish blogger and trackbacks yeah they wile my mind so with credit due i put up your post UNDER YOUR NAME IN THE TITLE – hope you do not mimd..we are in this together

    MUCH LOVE ! proggie

  3. Thanks for this. I’ve been in contact with the Association des transsexuel-le-s du Québec and the Coalition des transsexuelles et transsexuels du Québec and they’re discussing it as we speak. They’ll see what sort of support they can bring. We should coordinate about it.

  4. I will pass along the info to EGALE Canada. I believe they include pro-trans advocay in their mandate. Thanks for passing it along to ATQ and CTTQ, Matt.

  5. I’ve had two comments from Alice, a T blogger in the Netherland, who has very positive things to say about Dr. Cohen, and I asked her if she could provide more information.

  6. As a child, I so wish I could have had the support of my family, instead, I chose to be quiet about a condition that has been with me my whole life. If I could have just expressed the fact that I was a girl, and grown up in a gradual pattern, in a nuturing understanding enviorment, as a girl, I would have been so happy. Inrtead, I wondered what was wrong with me. Why I did not want to compete with boys in sports. Why my best freinds were girls. Why I dressed in my sisters clothes. My whole life has been spent trying to fit in as a boy, being watched by people who think I am gay. When really all I was doing was replicating girl actions that were natural and felt good to me. It makes me very upset to think that a whole new set of actual “girls” are going to be admonished for there girl like actions and grow up wondering what is wrong with them. I could have used the last fifty years of my life fitting into my own skin, and I am pissed off that no one in a profesional position ever said to me, “You appear to be a little femme in your behaivour, and that is OK. As a matter of fact, here are some people that you might relate to in this book. Read it and lets talk about what you think of it. We might be able to help you.” Instead, it is better to change children, to not inform them. I knew people were looking at me, I heard it in my own recorded voice, saw it in photos of myself, and I learned from society that I was WEIRD. I was just a little girl, goddamn it makes me so angry, why did I not deserve to be helped? To be loved and accepted for being femme. My father forced me to cut my hair when I was in the first grade, going to a new school. I was so upset, I loved my long hair, but I had to act like a man according to him. I really do not know how I made it. And I wish these fucking self rightous doctors could just understand what it’s like to live one day as the wrong gender, let alone a whole life…

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