Disorder Up: How DSM Changes Could Affect The Transgender Community
By Jenni O’Brien On 8 May, 2013
The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, or DSM, for those who don’t know, is a psychologist/psychiatrist’s bible to the many various diseases and disorders that plague the human mind.
It covers everything from Autism and Spectrum Disorders to Sleep Disorders and nestled comfortably within its pages the DSM discusses Gender Identity Disorder, or as the community lovingly calls it, being Transgendered.
First published in 1952, the DSM has undergone many transformations in the past sixty plus years, not the least of which was the removal of homosexuality from its pages in 1987 taking the LGTBQ community from being considered crazy to just being crazy in love.
Now, in 2013, the DSM is taking a new turn and it is undecided whether or not it is going to be for the worst.
The new printing is going to be transitioning the term Gender Identity Disorder to Gender Dysphoria, which leaves a ton of questions unanswered about what exactly this might mean for the Transgendered community.
Having a Gender Identity Disorder sets some legal precedents that can harm an individual. The disappearance of this term means that you are no longer considered mentally ill, as the term disorder connotes illness, it can no longer be used against you in a court of law either.
But as with every good side, there is also a bad side. Being “dysphoric” is only a temporary situation; the term dysphoria means that you are dissatisfied with your situation. An individual with Gender Dysphoria is dissatisfied with the gender they were born into and needs an extensive treatment including gender reassignment surgery, hormonal supplements, and therapy to become satisfied with their gender.
There is only one problem with this situation. While it seems like a small change on the surface, this new terminology could have devastating effects on the Transgendered community.
No longer having a disorder means that you are no longer medically ill, and that insurance does not have to pay for expensive treatments that are now considered merely cosmetic.
Insurance companies have spent a great deal of time and effort getting out of much smaller claims than this one, coming up with creative terminology of their own, such as “pre-existing condition.”
As a psychology student I view these changes somewhat skeptically, as I think that they aren’t prudent at this time in our country.
Maybe at the time of the next revision in another ten years these changes could mean something positive for the Transgendered community…