Applaud the American Psychiatric Association for Changing the Name of ‘Gender Identity Disorder’

Target: The American Psychiatric Association

Goal: Applaud choice to change the name and diagnostic criteria of Gender Identity Disorder in the upcoming Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders

The American Psychological Association (APA) is soon to come out with a new edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, often known as the DSM, which is used by psychologists and psychiatrists nationwide in diagnosing and treating patients. In the current edition, the DSM – IV, being transgendered is defined as “Gender Identity Disorder,” a name which many trans people and allies find problematic due to its connotation that being transgender makes one by default “disordered.” Additionally, the list of symptoms is somewhat flawed, as they define all non-gender conforming children as being possibly transgendered, and cause trans people who have completed as full a transition as they desire to be stuck permanently with the diagnosis.

However, in the upcoming DSM – V, “Gender Identity Disorder” is officially being replaced with “Gender Dysphoria” as a condition, to be diagnosed by displaying “a marked incongruence between one’s experienced/expressed gender and assigned gender.” This term and definition do not carry the same stigma of “disorder” that accompanied the diagnosis in the DSM – IV. Additionally, it is much more open to those who exist and identify between or separate from the two binary categories of female and male, and accepting for those who for whatever reason do not wish to make a full transition.

Although having transgender identity listed as a diagnosis can be problematic in some situations, it is extremely helpful as a legal defense for trans people making a case for workplace discrimination or seeking insurance coverage for sex-change surgery. Applaud the APA for redefining Gender Identity Disorder as Gender Dysphoria in the DSM – V, and ask them to include a revised list of symptoms so that the diagnosis does not apply to adults who have transitioned to the fullest extent they wish and children who do not meet gender stereotypes.


Dear American Psychiatric Association,

I am writing to applaud your decision to change the diagnosis of “Gender Identity Disorder” from the DSM – IV to one of “Gender Dysphoria” in the upcoming DSM – V. Gender Identity Disorder, as it was previously called, stigmatizes trans people as being in some way disordered, and leaves little room for those who identify as non-binary and/or do not wish a full transition. Changing the name and diagnostic criteria allows much more room for those experiencing discomfort and incongruence at any point on the gender spectrum.

Moving forward, I hope that this revised diagnosis is accompanied in the DSM – V with a revised list of symptoms that does not include all gender non-conforming children and fully transitioned adults (or adults who have completed as full a transition as they wish) in the diagnosis. My deepest thanks for the changes you have already made towards the better health and happiness of trans people at any location on the gender spectrum.


[Your Name Here]

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