There's been a lot of controversy in the trans community over whether "Gender Identity Disorder" should be removed from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of the American Psychiatric Association, and from the World Health Organization's psychiatric manuals as well.
I've been unsure about the best response to this issue. On the one hand, I do not feel that being transsexual or transgender is a "mental disorder." I feel that the main problem for trans people is the social response to their gender, not that there is some internal conflict. This isn't a disease, a pathology. Just like homosexuality isn't a disease and they took that one off the books in 1972.
On the other hand, having a medical diagnosis can help with getting employers to understand that this is "real." It can also help with coverage of some costs from insurers and government-funded health programs. Also, some trans people believe that it is "disorder" in the sense that there is a miswiring or "birth defect."
I tend to agree with the ones who want to take this "disorder" off the books.
The World Professional Association for Transgender Health has now weighed in on the issue.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 26, 2010
The WPATH Board of Directors strongly urges the de-psychopathologisation of gender variance worldwide. The expression of gender characteristics, including identities, that are not stereotypically associated with one's assigned sex at birth is a common and culturally-diverse human phenomenon which should not be judged as inherently pathological or negative. The psychopathologlisation of gender characteristics and identities reinforces or can prompt stigma, making prejudice and discrimination more likely, rendering transgender and transsexual people more vulnerable to social and legal marginalisation and exclusion, and increasing risks to mental and physical well-being. WPATH urges governmental and medical professional organizations to review their policies and practices to eliminate stigma toward gender-variant people.
Interestingly, the APA is revising its Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, and is considering changing "Gender Identity Disorder" to "Gender Incongruence." WPATH published their response to that here.
What do you think? Is it a good idea to take this off the books entirely? Is the "gender incongruence" label a good idea?