The DSM-5 and the politics of diagnosing transpeople

Davy, Zowie (2015) The DSM-5 and the politics of diagnosing transpeople. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 44 (5). pp. 1165-1176. ISSN 0004-0002

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Item Type:Article
Item Status:Live Archive


In the DSM-5, there has been a change in the diagnosis for transpeople of all ages from Gender Identity
Disorder (GID) to Gender Dysphoria (GD), in part to better indicate the distress that transpeople may
experience when their gender identity feels incongruent. The Workgroup for Sexual and Gender Identity
Disorders, chaired by Kenneth J. Zucker, was employed by the American Psychiatric Association (APA) to
update the DSM-5’s GID diagnosis reflecting contemporary scientific knowledge. Additionally, in a prepublication
report to the APA, members of the Workgroup suggested that they would also be concerned
with the destigmatization of transpeople while preserving a diagnosis that medical insurance companies
would accept for issuing payments for transitioning treatments (Drescher, in: LGBT Health 1:9–13, 2013).
The aims of this article are, firstly, to question whether changing the diagnosis lessens the stigmatization of
transpeople. I will suggest that the semantic change from GID to GD marks “inverted” gendered
expressions as pathological and, thus, continues to stigmatize transpeople. Secondly, the article explores
the development of the GD diagnosis, and illustrates how the scientific data this were founded on are
contentious. The article then demonstrates how the trans anti-pathologization movement has challenged the
perceived pathologizing effects of the DSM-5 classification of GD. The article examines a selection of
Western transgender community advocates’ websites, forums, and blogs. From these sources, the article
then explores the different narratives of transpeople and political groups who offer details of their praxis,
and evidences how the trans anti-pathologization advocates use the available science and human rights
discourses to contest the role of psychiatry in the treatment of transpeople.

Keywords:Gender Dysphoria, DSM-5, Anti-pathologization, transgender, transsexualism, Gender Identity Disorder, JCNotOpen
Subjects:L Social studies > L200 Politics
L Social studies > L216 Feminism
L Social studies > L431 Health Policy
L Social studies > L320 Gender studies
Divisions:College of Social Science > School of Health & Social Care
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ID Code:17657
Deposited On:14 Jun 2015 21:17

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