Oh god, please make it stop.
Yesterday morning, I woke up to a rash of headlines proclaiming that transexuality was no longer considered “disordered” by the American Psychiatric Association. This morning, it grew worse, with a rash of panicked emails from people who were wondering if their medical access would be jeopardized, after some LGBT and even mainstream news sites and blogs reported this as meaning that “Gender Identity Disorder” (GID) will no longer be considered in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), or had been “removed” from the DSM altogether. No, it hasn’t. That’s not true at all.
I hate to be a wet blanket, but the change that’s being heralded is mostly just in name, and “Gender Dysphoria” remains in the DSM — and in the “Sexual and Gender Identity Disorders” category (although that name may change too), if I recall correctly, of a manual that governs mental health. The parallel being drawn to when homosexuality was removed from the DSM wildly overstates this change.
And because it has not been completely removed (something I’ve previously cautioned about the risk of doing too hastily, regarding both the DSM and ICD volumes), peoples’ medical processes are not affected in any way. The panic I’ve heard from some people wondering if their medical treatment will be hindered is unfounded.
There is something to see here, though:
There is a positive in this, though, in that people are finally paying attention to the problems associated with another DSM category: Transvestic Disorder (formerly Transvestic Fetish). When the alarm was raised about Drs. Ray Blanchard and Ken Zucker having administrative roles in the DSM revision, that protest lost some steam when the APA announced that Zucker would be in an oversight position rather than hands-on, and Blanchard would be working on a separate category not related to GID (Paraphilias). Some of our allies decided we were making much ado about nothing. Now, people are perhaps realizing the problem with that arrangement, in that it gave Blanchard full license to develop Transvestic Disorder (TD / TF).
A few trans advocates (including Kelley Winters, Julia Serano, and myself) have cautioned about the problems with regard to TD / TF and what could happen if that diagnosis is expanded in scope while GID diminishes or is eliminated. Well, indications thus far are that Transvestic Disorder has certainly been expanded, and evolved to encompass Ray Blanchard’s theory of “autogynephilia” as a subcategory (plus the addition of “autoandrophilia,” to make it an equal-opportunity pathology). All that anyone really needs to do to technically qualify for this diagnosis, as Serano notes, is to be “sexually active while wearing clothing incongruent with their birth-assigned sex.”
This diagnosis sexualizes and invalidates, and frankly, it has become a wide, sweeping pathology encompassing a significant amount of non-harmful behaviour.
Backgrounder: The Little Case Study That Autogynephilia Forgot
(Crossposted to The Bilerico Project)