Transvestic Disorder: The Overlooked Anti-Trans Diagnosis
On May 5, the American Psychiatric Association released a second round of proposed diagnostic criteria for the 5th Edition of The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5). These include two categories that impact the trans community: Gender Dysphoria (formerly Gender Identity Disorder) and Transvestic Disorder (formerly Transvestic Fetishism).
While GID has received a great deal of attention in the press and from GLBTQ advocates, the second transvestic category is too often overlooked. This is unfortunate, because a diagnosis of Transvestic Disorder is designed to punish social and sexual gender nonconformity and to enforce binary stereotypes of assigned birth sex. It plays no role in enabling access to medical transition care for those who need it, and it is frequently cited when care is denied.
I urge all trans community members, friends, care providers, and allies to call for the removal of this punitive and scientifically unfounded diagnosis from the DSM-5. The current period for public comment to the APA ends June 15.
The entry in the current DSM on Transvestic Disorder, like the former entry on Transvestic Fetishism, is authored by Dr. Ray Blanchard of the Toronto Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (formerly known as the Clarke Institute). Blanchard has drawn outrage from the transcommunity for his defamatory theory of autogynephilia, asserting that all transsexual women who are not exclusively attracted to males are motivated to transition by self-obsessed sexual fetishism. He is canonizing this harmful stereotype of transsexual women in the DSM-5 by adding an autogynephilia specifier to the Transvestic Disorder diagnosis.
Worse yet, Blanchard has broadly expanded the diagnosis to implicate gender-nonconforming people of all sexes and all sexual orientations, even inventing an autoandrophilia specifier to smear transsexual men. Most recently, he has added an “In Remission” specifier to preclude the possibility of exit from diagnosis. Like a roach motel, there may be no way out of the Transvestic Disorder diagnosis once ensnared.
What You Can Do Now
1. Go to the APA DSM-5 website, click on “Register Now,” create a user account, and enter your statement in the box. The deadline for this second period of public comment is June 15.
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2. Sign the Petition to Remove Transvestic Disorder from the DSM-5, sponsored by the International Foundation for Gender Education.
3. Demand that your local, national, and international GLBTQ nonprofit organizations issue public statements calling for the removal of this defamatory Transvestic Disorder category from the DSM-5. So far, very few have.
4. Spread the word to your networks, friends, and allies.
Cross-posted with additional comments at the GID Reform Advocates Blog.