The American Psychiatric Association board of trustees made history last weekend by voting to no longer classify transgender and gender non-conforming identity as a mental disorder. The DSM-5 will diagnose transgender people with “Gender Dysphoria,” a term communicating the emotional distress that can result from “a marked incongruence between one’s experienced/expressed gender and assigned gender.” This will open the door for affirmative treatment and transition care without stigma.
This Saturday, the American Psychiatric Association board of trustees approved the latest proposed revisions to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, what will now be known as the DSM-5. This marks a historic milestone for people who are transgender and gender non-conforming, as their identities are no longer classified as a mental disorder. Homosexuality was similarly declassified as a mental disorder in 1973.
Until now, the term “gender identity disorder” has been used to diagnose people who are transgender. For conservatives, this has provided rhetorical carte blanche to describe the entire trans committee as disordered, delusional, and mentally ill. In some cases, this diagnosis has even been used to discriminate against trans people, with claims that they are unfit parents or employees, as examples. On the other hand, insurance companies have been more willing to cover the expenses associated with transition under this language, because treatment for a disorder is considered medically necessary, rather than cosmetic.
It was only after homosexuality was declassified as a mental disorder that ex-gay ministries formed, protesting the medical community’s decision to affirm non-heterosexual orientations. Some dangerous ex-trans ministries exist already and are championed by Focus on the Family, NARTH, PFOX, and other anti-LGBT organizations. It’s possible that these efforts may similarly increase in the wake of this DSM revision.
Homosexuality was removed from the DSM as a mental disorder in 1973.