Monday, May 25, 2009

APA Debates Gender Diversity

Guest post by ENC member Robbi Cohn

This past week the American Psychiatric Association held its annual conference in San Francisco. Seminars were held, lectures given, and ideas discussed. The future of the DSM, Diagnostic and Statistics Manual, often called the APA’s Bible, was up for debate. Even though women are included in the APA, this organization is still a bastion of patriarchal thinking and the idea that “father knows best” easily converts into codifying diagnoses which unjustly demonize individuality. At risk are essential identities that manifest themselves as gender diversity. Few of these ideologues have a horse in this metaphorical race; yet, judgments are passed and decisions made that will negatively and irrevocably impact tens of thousands of individuals.

Dr Kenneth Zucker, DSM V contributor and chair, along with his mentor Dr. Raymond Blanchard, has consistently stretched his imagination with the invention of convoluted fetishes and paraphilias which are used to conveniently pigeonhole and patholigize persons whose sexual orientation and/or gender diversity do not meet the standards of what he choses to call “normal”. The inordinate influence these two wield is mind-boggling, given their inability to grasp even the simplest concepts regarding what it means to be gender diverse.

Their first mistake is the conflation of sexual orientation and gender identity. Their second mistake is the sell out to a solely binary expression of those same concepts. Their third mistake is their insistence upon gatekeeper mentality, which mandates an external “decider”.

Because we are allegedly neither entitled to nor capable of making decisions for ourselves, based upon our own experiences and the care of therapists who actually DO have a greater understanding of the issue than they, we need them (our surrogate fathers) to do it for us. Their last, and perhaps worst, mistake is the unprofessional and cavalier conclusions they draw and the treatments they advocate based on those erroneous conclusions.

Fortunately, many allies and advocates the trans community has also attended this conference. Amongst others, Drs. Rebecca Allison and Kelley Winters attempted to steer the organization back to reality via their presentations and contributions.

Regarding Zucker’s insistence upon using the inaccurate diagnosis gender identity disorder (GID), Dr. Winters stated “"difference is not a disease, nonconformity is not pathology, and uniqueness is not illness." Dr. Allison said "In a perfect world, psychiatrists could treat patients with gender variance, but not for gender variance."

In their presentation, Mara Keisling (NCTE) and Shannon Minter (NCLT Attorney) adduced the medical and psychological ramifications of GID thorough the window of advocacy and the law. Now is the time to vocalize our opposition to contrived diagnoses which serve to make pathological conditions out of intrinsic and essential ways of being in the world.

Robbi Cohn writes the T-Notes column for Q-Notes.

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