Transgender activists demonstrate at APA meeting

A small group of transgender activists and supporters demonstrated outside San Francisco’s Moscone Convention Center on Monday (May 19, 2009) as the American Psychiatric Association (APA) met inside.

The demonstrators’ concerns involved whether “gender identity disorder” or related diagnoses will be part of the new fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of the Mental Disorders (DSM-V). DSM-V is  being drafted by more than 160 psychiatrists and other mental health professionals, with the final draft due in 2012.

Yesterday I conducted an extensive interview on DSM-V with Dr. Darrell Regier, the vice chair of the oversight committee. (I hope to be posting that interview as a podcast within a week or so.) Here’s what Dr. Regier had to say about the transgender controversy:

“We are certainly open to the concerns they have. We want to have a scientifically based set of diagnostic criteria to make a judgment on what is going to be the most scientifically credible and clinically useful assessment of gender identity disorder criteria. . . .

“We understand that there are some controversial issues, some strongly held positions in the community. There are individuals with gender identity disorder and transgender advocates who are very concerned that if it is not considered a mental disorder diagnosis they will not be eligible for treatment, whether they’re pharmacologic treatments or surgical treatments. And then there’s another group that feels this should be removed from the diagnostic criteria in the same way that homosexuality was removed as a diagnosis in 1973. So there’s a lot of disagreement within that community, and we’re hearing both sides.”

Here are some photos I took at the demonstration.

Transgender demonstration 1

Transgender demonstration 1

Transgender demonstration 2

Transgender demonstration 2

Transgender demonstration 3

Transgender demonstration 3

Transgender demonstration 4

Transgender demonstration 4

Transgender demonstration 5

Transgender demonstration 5

Transgender demonstration 6

Transgender demonstration 6

—Bob Finn
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1 Comment

Filed under Psychiatry

One response to “Transgender activists demonstrate at APA meeting

  1. Noam Szoke

    Thank you for covering this issue in your blog. I would like to respond to Dr. Regier’s statement. The reason that there is controversy in the Trans community about the DSM is because of concern over Trans peoples’ access to treatment.

    Unlike non-Trans homosexuals, Trans people, both straight and gay, need access to medical treatment.

    The APA should depathologize gender difference *and* ensure access to medical treatment for all Trans folks, including hormones and surgery. Some Trans people also need access to psychiatric support to deal with depression, anxiety, or other issues. Being Trans is not, in itself, a pathology, and Trans people should not have to choose between being wrongly labeled as disordered and getting medical treatment.


    Noam Szoke
    San Francisco

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