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Task Force affirms APA's refutation of 'gender identity disorder' in new edition of Diagnostic and Statistical Manual

Date: 
April 12, 2010

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WASHINGTON, April 12 — The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force today affirmed the American Psychiatric Association's (APA) refutation of "gender identity disorder" in favor of "gender incongruence," but calls for the removal of "transvestic disorder" and expresses concerns about other proposed revisions to the upcoming 5th edition of the APA's Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM).

The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force affirmed the APA's revision of its diagnostic category that commonly serves transgender and gender nonconforming people, changing "gender identity disorder" to "gender incongruence" in the proposed new volume of the DSM.

"We see this revision as an evolutionary step toward removal of all diagnoses related to gender nonconformity in the DSM," said Jaime Grant, director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force's Policy Institute. "Gender variance is not a psychiatric problem; it's a natural human variation that in some cases requires medical attention and support."

The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force's in-depth comment on the proposed revisions, which will be submitted to the DSM-5 Task Force, also calls for the removal of "transvestic fetishism," which pathologizes male-to-female cross-dressing, exclusively.

It notes that the "very notion that cross-dressing among female-born individuals is never pathological, while cross-dressing among male-born clients has multiple pathological manifestations reeks of a kind of sexism we find astonishing for psychiatry in the 21st century. It is well past time for the removal of disorders associated with disfavored versions of femininity, which call to mind the infamous 19th century diagnosis of 'hysteria' in women."

The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force also commented on the emergence of "hypersexual disorder" in this version of the DSM. "While the recent excesses of some prominent heterosexual men have brought this condition more to light, we continue to be concerned that lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people may be targeted for this diagnosis by some providers," said Grant.

To add a commentary to the DSM revision process, interested parties should go to www.dsm5.org by April 20.

Download the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force's comment to the DSM-5 Task Force here.

To learn more about the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, follow us on Twitter: @TheTaskForce.

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The mission of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force is to build the grassroots power of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community. We do this by training activists, equipping state and local organizations with the skills needed to organize broad-based campaigns to defeat anti-LGBT referenda and advance pro-LGBT legislation, and building the organizational capacity of our movement. Our Policy Institute, the movement’s premier think tank, provides research and policy analysis to support the struggle for complete equality and to counter right-wing lies. As part of a broader social justice movement, we work to create a nation that respects the diversity of human expression and identity and creates opportunity for all. Headquartered in Washington, D.C., we also have offices in New York City, Los Angeles, Miami, Minneapolis and Cambridge.