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Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders-II

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In 1980, the American Psychology Association placed transsexuality in the Diagnostic

and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders-II, labeling any individual who considers themselves

a transgender with a mental illness(Drescher 437). In 1984 in the DSM-IV, the term

transsexuality was replaced with the current terminology-GID, or gender identity disorder.

Because of the American Psychology Association's classification, many of these individuals live

their lives with a certain negative stigma attached to them. This negative stigma not only affects

their mental health, but also affects the way they live. Nobody wants to go through life

feeling as if they are an illness that needs "cured". Merriam-Webster dictionary online defines the term "mental disorder as a "mental or bodily condition marked primarily by sufficient disorganization of personality, mind, and emotions to seriously impair the normal psychological functioning of the individual. The DSM -IV-TR provides its own definition for a mental disorder. "Each of the mental disorders is conceptualized as a clinically significant behavior or psychological syndrome or pattern that occurs in an individual and that is associated with present distress (e.g., painful symptom) or disability (i.e. impairment in one or more important areas of functioning) or with a significant increased risk of suffering death, pain, disability, or an important loss of freedom...Whatever the original cause it must currently be considered a manifestation of a behavioral, psychological, or biological dysfunction in the individual. Neither deviant behavior (e.g., political religious, or sexual) nor conflicts that are primarily between the individual and society are mental disorders unless the deviance or conflict is a symptom of a dysfunction in the individual, as described above" (Bockting, et. al., 57). People who suffer from mental illnesses such as bipolar disorder and schizophrenia and others don't consider the mental illness a part of their identity. To transgender individuals, being transgender is part of their identity, who they are as a person. Gender Identity Disorder is not a mental disorder and should no longer be in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.

The history of the entry of transexuality into the DSM started in 1980 and has gone

through several changes throughout the new editions and revisions of the manual. When

transsexuality was first introduced into the DSM, there were two types of diagnoses. The first

was GIDC, gender identity disorder in children and then the term transsexuailty was used to

described the disorder in adolescents and adults. The first, GIDC, was used as a way to cure

children before adolescent age to prevent them from becoming adult transgender individuals. In

1987, when the revised DSM-III came out, a third diagnosis was added, GID of adults and

adolescents-non transsexual type was added. In 1994, when the DSM IV was released, the GID of

adults and adolescents-non transsexual type was removed. Transsexuality and GIDC were

formed into GID with one kind of criteria for children and another set of criteria for adolescents

and adults. The research and clinical contributions of John Money, Harry Benjamin, Robert

Stoller and Richard Green placed GID into the DSM (Drescher 437-439).

In the current version of the DSM, the diagnosis for GID requires the fulfillment of four criteria: (1) a strong and persistent cross-gender identification; (2) persistent discomfort with his or her sex or sense of inappropriateness in the gender role of that sex; (3) the disturbance is not concurrent with a physical intersex condition; and (4) the disturbance causes clinically significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning(Vance, et. al. 1-2). In the first criteria of the diagnosis, a strong and persistent cross-gender identification, the individual is being judged for being who they are. A mental disorder cannot be based on an individual's identity. Claiming that a transgender individual is suffering from a mental disorder is like trying to say because someone has blue eyes, they have a mental disorder. People cannot help how they feel inside. GID isn't a psychological condition; it is a medical condition that can be fixed by hormone therapy and sexual reassignment surgery, if the individual chooses to go that route. Just because someone doesn't fit into the societal norm does not mean that the individual or a group of individuals should be considered to have a mental disorder.

One reason why many are unhappy with the diagnosis is because the diagnosis doesn't meet the DSM-IV-TR's definition of a mental disorder. The DSM -IV-TR provides its own definition for a mental disorder. "Each of the mental disorders is conceptualized as a clinically significant behavior or psychological syndrome or pattern that occurs in an individual and that is associated with present distress (e.g., painful symptom) or disability (i.e. impairment in one or more important areas of functioning) or with a significant increased risk of suffering death, pain, disability, or an important loss of freedom...Whatever the original cause it must currently be considered a manifestation of a behavioral, psychological, or biological dysfunction in the individual. Neither deviant behavior (e.g., political religious, or sexual) nor conflicts that are primarily between the individual and society are mental disorders unless the deviance or conflict is a symptom of a dysfunction in the individual, as described above" and the DSM-IV-TR

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