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APA removes gender identity disorder from latest DSM

BY NATASHA BARSOTTI — As part of a raft of changes to its Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), the American Psychiatric Association (APA) has removed the term gender identity disorder (GID), which has been used to diagnose people who are transgender.

The APA's latest revision of the manual, DSM–5, will instead use "gender dysphoria" to refer to people who experience "a marked incongruence between one's experienced/expressed gender and assigned gender."

While some transgender advocates view the change as an important step in removing the stigma of disorder based on false stereotypes about gender identity and expression, others see the change as posing challenges regarding access to health insurance coverage for trans-related medical care, which could "already be prohibitively expensive even before the change," GLAAD reports.

Like gay people before them, transgender people have seen APA language applied to their disadvantage. 

Kelley Winters, who was among those who helped push for the change, notes that the "disordered" label saddles transgender people with the
burden of proving their competence. 

"The transgender community and civil rights advocates have long been polarized by fear that access to sex reassignment (SRS) procedures would be lost if the GID classification were revised," Winters notes on the website gidreform.org

She adds, "Transsexual individuals are poorly served by a diagnosis that both stigmatizes them unconditionally as mentally deficient and undermines the legitimacy of sex reassignment procedures that have been easily dismissed as 'elective' and 'cosmetic' by insurers, governments and employers. GID reform is not a question of less stigma versus improved SRS access, it is a question of less stigma and improved SRS access."

Earlier in the year, the APA also released new healthcare guidelines for transgender patients, as well as a statement affirming transgender care and civil rights, ThinkProgress notes. In part, the APA statement says it "supports laws that protect the civil rights of transgender and gender variant individuals; urges the repeal of laws and policies that discriminate against transgender and gender variant people; opposes all public and private discrimination against transgender and gender variant individuals in such areas as health care, employment, housing, public accommodation, education, and licensing; declares that no burden of proof of such judgment, capacity, or reliability shall be placed upon these individuals greater than that imposed on any other persons."

DSM-5, which will undergo a final editing process, is expected to be released officially at the APA's annual meeting in San Francisco in May.

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