HRC Blog

HRC Urges American Psychiatric Association to Eliminate Transgender Stigma

HRC submitted comment yesterday on the American Psychiatric Association’s (APA) proposed changes to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, pressing the APA to do more to eliminate the stigma transgender Americans face. The public comment phase of the review process ended April 20. HRC Associate Director of Diversity Allyson Robinson offered her anylsis of the APA's proposals:

“Upon reviewing the APA’s proposed revisions, it appears that they no longer consider gender identity that differs from birth sex to be a basis for psychiatric diagnosis. By focusing instead on the experience of incongruence, an often distressing conflict between a person’s physical characteristics and their sense of gender identity, the APA has made an important step toward the destigmatization of transgender lives.

While affirming the significance of this shift, HRC President Joe Solmonese pressed the APA to do more:

“These diagnostic categories are frequently used by opponents of equality to deny basic civil rights to transgender Americans, and in that way become a significant source of emotional distress themselves. The APA must address this heinous practice and do more to empower mental health professionals as they seek to heal the damage caused by stigma, bias, and prejudice.

HRC also called in its commentary for the complete removal of “transvestic disorder,” which pathologizes male-to-female cross-dressing, from the final DSM-5 document. Solmonese added:

“The persistence of this archaic category contradicts the positive shift the APA made with gender incongruence and tacitly affirms an understanding of gender based in sexism, not science.

The proposed changes are slated to go into effect in 2013.

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