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On Saturday, the American Psychiatric Association’s board of trustees approved changes to the latest version of The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-V) that removed the term “Gender Identity Disorder” (GID) which has historically been used by mental health professionals to diagnose transgender individuals. Simultaneously, the term “Gender Dysphoria” will now be used to describe emotional distress over “a marked incongruence between one’s experienced/expressed gender and assigned gender.”
Some transgender advocates see this change in the DSM-V as an important step to removing stigma against transgender people based on false stereotypes about gender identity and expression, as well as the word "disorder." Transgender people are no longer subject to a lifelong default diagnosis of their mental health. This change follows previous statements from the APA on mental healthcare for transgender people. However, other transgender advocates note the barriers this change may create to accessing health insurance coverage for trans-related medical care, which could already be prohibitively expensive even before the change.
It is important that journalists and others in the media be aware of this historic change in the DSM-V and acknowledge that "Gender Identity Disorder" (GID) - as well as the idea that trans people are automatically "disordered" - are now antiquated ideas among healthcare professionals. As has always been the case, it is still unacceptable for media outlets to lend credibility to anti-transgender activists who continue to draw false connections between being transgender and certain behaviors. Additionally, it is crucial that journalists realize the limitations of reporting that focuses on issues of importance to the transgender community, such as this change to the DSM-V, without seeking input from transgender people themselves.
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