The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force have stepped up to become one of the first ally organizations to make a statement about the DSM-V Work Group selection (PFLAG has also reportedly been working on a statement). They write:
The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force is questioning the American Psychiatric Association's (APA) recent appointments of Kenneth Zucker, Ph.D., to chair the Committee on Sexual and Gender Identity Disorders for the revision of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-V), and Ray Blanchard, Ph.D., to serve as a committee member. These appointments are raising great concerns within the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community.
Zucker has built his reputation on the position that children can be directed away from nonconforming gender expression via therapy, while Blanchard has a long list of articles pathologizing commonplace expressions of sexuality and gender.
Rea Carey, Acting Executive Director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force adds:
"We are very concerned about these appointments. Kenneth Zucker and Ray Blanchard are clearly out of step with the occurring shift in how doctors and other health professionals think about transgender people and gender variance. It is extremely disappointing and disturbing that the APA appears to be failing in keeping up with the times when it comes to serving the needs of transgender adults and gender-variant children."
I don't know the trans community's reaction to this statement yet, I suspect that some will say it doesn't go far enough, but I do certainly welcome the NGLTF's assistance in raising awareness of the issue, in whatever capacity they choose to get involved.
For as long as "Gender Identity Disorder" is treated as a mental health issue, I do believe that it is important at this step to develop some form of liaison body between the psychiatric community and transsexual advocates, something that would allow frank and open discussion of transsexual medical issues. Such a liaison committee could be within the APA, or the Association of Gay and Lesbian Psychiatrists (AGLP). The idea has its challenges. Aside from those trans advocates who are also medical professionals, there can be a language and process barrier involved. But a dialogue needs to be there nonetheless.
I would be happy to hear of such developments.
(Mercedes will be back with more and different topics when her career change workload lightens up, hopefully soon)