HRC Blog

Washington Times Refuses APA Letter Rebutting Gender Identity Lies

Those opposed to equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people have been working hard to push the lie that LGBT people -- and particularly transgender folks -- suffer from “mental illness” are are therefore unworthy of basic employment protections.  In an incredibly offensive editorial last month, the Washington Times argued that "discrimination is necessary" or else children would be subjected to "weirdos."  They also cite the American Psychiatric Association's Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders as a basis for their argument. In response, the President of the APA wrote a letter to the editor of the Washington Times to correct the record and rebut their distortion of the DSM.  The paper refused to publish the letter but the APA has given us permission to print it here:

To the Editor, The American Psychiatric Association disagrees with the Washington Times editorial published on April 23 opposing H.R. 3017, or the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA). The editorial cited the fact that gender identity disorder is listed in the American Psychiatric Association’s (APA’s) Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders-IV (DSM), and concluded that schoolchildren and workers should not be “held hostage” to such disorders and employers should not have “psychologically troubled” employees representing them. The American Psychiatric Association has long opposed the use of stigma against mental illnesses in political attacks and opposes discrimination against all individuals with mental disorders. The Washington Times and other opponents of ENDA are distorting mental health issues in order to confuse and frighten the public and influence policy-makers to obstruct civil rights legislation. If the Times’ argument that we should discriminate against individuals with conditions listed in the DSM is extended, then equal employment rights would be stripped from all individuals who suffer from a mental illness, including depression and many other common conditions. There are undoubtedly thousands of teachers treated for depression, anxiety and other conditions who are doing a fine job of educating America’s schoolchildren. The APA vigorously opposes any discrimination based on a mental disorder or a history of psychiatric treatment. Alan F. Schatzberg President American Psychiatric Association

Last year we encouraged the APA to make a statement "denouncing the misuse of current diagnoses to deny civil rights to transgender and gender-variant people" and we welcome their much-needed voice into this debate. We’re also working hard to counter this tactic with truth.  HRC President, Joe Solmonese, responded to a right-wing op-ed in Roll Call (the Capitol Hill newspaper) with a letter which they published the following day.  Roll Call also printed an excellent response by transgender advocate Dr. Jillian Weiss.  We also responded to the piece in the Washington Times and a similarly slanted article in the Washington Post (though neither published our responses), and HRC's Allyson Robinson appeared on CBS News’s “Washington Unplugged” webcast to debate Andrea Lafferty of the Traditional Values Coalition on these same points. We cannot allow these attacks on our community to go unanswered.  Take action on ENDA and tell Congress it's time to protect all lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people from workplace discrimination.

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