American Pyschiatric Association Drops Gender-Identity Disorder As Mental Illness

After years of campaigning by trans activists, the American Psychiatric Association has removed “gender-identity disorder” as a mental illness, and replaced it with the more neutral diagnostic term “gender dysphoria.”

“The label of mental defectiveness really places a burden on trans people to continually prove our competence in our affirmed roles,” says activist Kelley Winters.

Previously, an individual’s gender identity could be used against them in custody battles and other legal cases. But removing it from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM) could cost  trans people insurance coverage for hormone treatments and gender-reassigment surgery.

Dr. Jack Drescher, a member of the APA subcommittee handling the revision, told the Associated Press, “We know there is a whole community of people out there who are not seeking medical attention and live between the two binary categories. We wanted to send the message that the therapist’s job isn’t to pathologize.”

The move comes almost 40 years after homosexuality was declassified as a mental illness by the APA in 1973. Just this week, the Department of Health and Human Services issued a statement confirming the Affordable Care Act protected against discrimination based on gender identity.


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  • The Real Mike in Asheville

    About time — homosexuality was removed from the list of mental disorders 4 decades ago, not sure why it took so long for the APA to apply the logic used removing homosexuality to gender dysphoria.

    Being gay different from the general society has its own plague of trials and challenges; I just cannot imagine what gender dyyphoric individuals go through. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it forever — every single person has the God-given right to pursue their own happiness. Transgendered individuals too!

  • Johne Baretta

    When will fear & loathing be dust, replaced with love & trust = faith?

  • vreer

    Well, actually… for the medical establishment this is a huge and timely step. For trans people is also is welcome. But not so much more than that. I confirm it is very nice to know the official US psychiatric manual does away with pathologising your identity. Now we are “gender dysphoric”. But why is that relevant anyway? A homosexual person with quite some shit in life then is homo dysphoric? Of sexual dysphoric? What crap is that? really, I don’t get it. Through the back door we still get a special treatment, we are still being seen as second class. Gender dysphoria makes me thin so much of the also disappeared and terribly old fashioned “ego dystonic homosexuality”. APA: get lost. The British Psychological Society is way ahead and quite clearly states trans people are no mentally ill as such and most problems come form transphobic society. Since a mentality change costs ages and many trans people (have to) buy into the “wrong body” discourse, there will be a continuing high call upon medical resources to appease our minds and boides and with that the world around us that gets terrified over the idea of non matching gender expression with genitalia (not only in the US, also in lliberal and tolerant netherlands for example).
    So I would say: big step for medical establishment, too little step for humanity. Trans people need recognition as everyone does. this solution is repathologising one part of the trans population and making it difficult for others to get the (mental) health care they need.

  • Phil

    I support trans men and women, but this seems silly. How is it not disordered to be born in the wrong body?

  • Brian Smart

    I agree Phil.

  • Jaye

    Phil and Brian…

    Well, calling it “Gender Identity Disorder” implied that it’s the identity that’s disordered, not the mismatch between the identity and the body. Reclassifying it as “Gender Dysphoria” puts a different spin on it, focusing instead on treating the dysphoria (most effective by transition) rather than saying the identity is somehow in need of fixing. :)

  • vreer

    Indeed, “wrong body” has nothing to do with your body. Years ago, in the beginning of the twentieth century, in the beginning of homosexual emancipation, gay men used to call themselves “inverted”, “Female souls in a male body”, “uranists”. That is not so different form what many trans people have gotten to undersand themselves as. But homosexual people nowadays dont say anymore they have a female soul in a male body. it is generally accepted that homosexuality is just a natural phenomenon and the way people express it, depends on time and place. this too applies to trans people. But for some trans people the stress of not wanting/being able to live the way they are expected, is so strong that they cannot cope without physical changes. Transgender people are ot only those who transition form the one regonized gender to the other recognised gender. Cross dressers, (male/female or other) are also trans. There are travestis, hijras, doubledeckers, kothi, fa’afafine .. all trans people in one way or another. Only some of them transition to one of the two legal and recognised, acknowledged genders we know in the “West world”. More people do not undergo a medical transition than do.
    This “wrong body” narrative, this story, is a cultural old fashioned idea. It used to be the only way trans people (and before them gays!) could undersand themselves.

    Keep up your support for trans people as you will undoubtedly for black people fighting for their rights.

  • Magda

    The “wrong body ideation always irritated me vaguely, ok not so vaguely. I was born to a peri-menopausal mother in 1958, following a miscarriage. Her obstetrician prescribed diethyl stilbestrone, an estrogen, to allow her to carry to term. Some researchers believe that fetal exposure feminizes the neurology or “brain wiring”. The jury is still out but personally I think it is a credible explanation for my particular situation. Post-natal, an XY infant is no longer influenced by the mothers medications and masculinization proceeds apace. Not so much with the wrong body, but the wrong brain. A brain that can not be retroactively masculinized. I imagine there are other mechanisms by which this happens as well. The result is, in all honesty rather tragic. I have taken a relatively normal male body and made a barely acceptable mess of it. Earlier intervention would have helped. Fewer hoops to jump through erected by medical providers would have helped. Less stigmatization would have helped. But I have found a way to survive. And I hope my survival is a good thing in the eyes of some of my fellow humans. Basically I believe that my mind falls within normal parameters for a female. I deny the existence of pathology. And in fact believe that the female template of my brain’s electro-chemistry could only really mature emotionally in the presence of the appropriate hormones. Like waiting half your life to grow up. I hope this comment and personal narrative is enlightening.

  • Jill

    I don’t think the APA is removing gender dysphoria as a “mental illness” – this is not de-listing, as was done with “homosexuality” in 1972. We are still going to be listed in DSM for being transgender, and the haters will still use this against us, to argue why we shouldn’t be around small children. It doesn’t matter how well I function as a transgender person, I will still be “mentally disordered” because I meet the DSM-5 criteria – just “post transition”. Mental “illness” actually has never been defined in DSM – that is the function of a state’s mental health laws. “Gender dysphoria” is a big improvement over “Gender Identity Disorder” – our identity is not disordered. I have very mixed feelings about it’s listing in DSM-5 – I want trans people to have access to appropriate medical care, which probably depends on transness being listed as some type of medical condition – I just wish it wasn’t the psychiatric branch of medicine that owned us. One can be transgender and require trans medical procedures but be highly functional socially and occupationally (the definition of mental health in DSM, taken from Sigmund Freud’s idea that a mentally healthy person is “one who can love and who can work”).

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