Sunday, March 14, 2010

 Controversy continues over APA and gender variance
 -By RENEE BAKER – March 11, 2010 -

Latest version of Diagnostic and Statistical Manual still includes gender variance as a disorder, recommends ‘reparative’ therapy

Mental illness can carry a heavy stigma. It can destroy families, end careers, cause health care to be turned down and even the most basic of human rights to be denied.

Just look at homosexuality as an example: It was once labeled a mental disorder, and the liberation of LGB people today continues to depend upon them having a clean bill of mental health.

But that same clean bill is routinely denied to freely expressing gender-variant people — from toddlers to adults — regardless of transgender identity. And though the liberating road ahead is anything but clear, many voices are speaking out amidst a firestorm of controversy, and they’re speaking to the American Psychiatric Association.

The 38,000-member APA, formed in 1892, has the mission to “ensure humane care and effective treatment for all persons with mental disorders.”  The organization defines and publishes criteria for mental disorders in its Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, originally published in 1952 and now in its fourth edition.

The upcoming DSM-V, with draft revisions released just last month, and its appointed revising committee for disorders related to sexuality and gender are at the center of the controversy, enough so that the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force issued a statement on the subject in May of last year.

Those revisions show the DSM continues to include the GID entry, a fact that has transgender advocates up in arms. 

The Task Force declared the appointments of Drs. Kenneth Zucker and Ray Blanchard to be “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.”

Zucker is the psychologist-in-chief at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health in Toronto and is the head of the Gender Identity Service in the Child, Youth, and Family Program at CAMH.  He is a proponent of treating gender-variant children to adjust to their birth sex, which some have criticized as a form of “reparative therapy.” Read more -

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