In Review: Gender Incongruence instead of Gender Identity Disorder

A pretty significant development is occurring in the world of trans that I should definitely mention.

In February the American Psychiatric Association released a draft of proposed diagnostic criteria for its Diagnostic & Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM).

For some time now trans people have been lumped under the "Gender Identity Disorder" (GID) banner. To start hormone therapy, I had to first go to a therapist for the first and only time in my life who diagnosed me with GID, scribbled it upon a letter which I then took to a doctor in order to begin.

Strange... I don't know of many mental disorders that can be cured physically. Some hormones and surgery and my mental disorder disappears! Poof! What magic!
It is proposed that the name gender identity disorder (GID) be replaced by "Gender Incongruence" (GI) because the latter is a descriptive term that better reflects the core of the problem: an incongruence between, on the one hand, what identity one experiences and/or expresses and, on the other hand, how one is expected to live based on one's assigned gender (usually at birth) (Meyer-Bahlburg, 2009a; Winters, 2005).
Gender Incongruence? First, the revised language acknowledges that the term "disorder" perpetuates the marginalization of trans persons who do need medical intervention to function. Not perfect, but improvement. And most importantly, it's recognition that the current classifications don't cover everyone. The transgender and gender non-conforming world is incredibly diverse.

For instance, as I've mentioned before, the gender component doesn't necessarily matter to me. It only matters given the binary gendered world we all live in; and makes living life much easier and safer as I experience masculinizing changes from hormone therapy. And my experience is only 1 of a vast spectrum; all very different from one another. For some people, the gender aspect is 100% of it.

Not to mention that the stigma that accompanies a psychiatric diagnosis has harmful effects on self-concept, access to healthcare, and can lead to denial of health care coverage for pre-existing conditions. It's important stuff.

As this author puts it in DSM-5 Coming in 2013: "Gender Incongruence" Proposed to Replace "Gender Identity Disorder"

Persons who experience and express gender outside traditional cultural norms for their birth sex have been harmed by the DSM’s pathologizing diagnosis of Gender Identity Disorder and are advocating for reform. The issue of diagnosis is controversial among the trans community and healthcare professionals alike. Some advocate for the complete removal of any diagnosis related to gender expression on the basis that diversity in gender expression does not reflect an underlying mental disorder.

And as this author puts it in from Gender Identity Disorder to Gender Incongruence,

We simply can't wrongly label people because we don't have the right label handy ... the alternative, leaving the DSM as it is, leaves many transgenders out in the cold, and pathologizes the rest. It also leaves their doctors without the necessary tools to quickly communicate their assessments to colleagues and everyone else involved in the funding and treatment of trans-people.

For more reading on this, check out Genderkid's post.

The draft is in review currently - for a 90 day period since February 10th, I believe? Don't quote me on that, but something around there. And, if approved, will be published in 2013.


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