The DSM-V takes gender off the table

(via Upworthy on Tumblr) Like every other academic field, the claims made by psychology are constantly open to revision and rebuttal, and like every other academic field, psychology becomes less biased, stratified, and private as time passes and advances are made.

I'm reminded in particular of the history of geometry, which acquired non-Euclidean geometry over 2000 years after Euclidean geometry came up.

Unlike geometry, though, the impact of biases in psychology affect the individual lives of people every day.  Systems of oppression have been hung on bad psychology.  Social myths and prejudices are perpetuated by bad psychology.  Bad geometry can only hold up new creation, whereas bad psychology can do specific harm.

That is why I am thrilled to report that the next edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, DSM-V, the standard textbook from which individuals are diagnosed and medicines are prescribed, is eliminating Gender Identity Disorder.

Well, I say eliminating.  What they've done is switched Gender Identity Disorder (which describes the dissonance between one's assigned gender and experienced gender as unhealthy, and tends toward implicitly arguing that the assigned gender is the correct one) for Gender Dysphoria, which they describe as:

a marked incongruence between one’s experienced/expressed gender and assigned gender.

Why is this a good thing?  Starting from a purely semantic perspective, "Gender Identity Disorder" means the problem is with the individual's perception of their gender.  "Gender Dysphoria" means the individual is unhappy about the state of their experience of gender.

Under the new definition, especially within the context it's been changed, someone who was assigned male at birth but identified as female could seek therapy to help deal with the dissonance, medication that might either help with the depression or help her transition, and insurance-covered surgery to help resolve the incongruance between her body and her identity.

It wouldn't mean that she could be treated by the medical institution like she was a boy and just needed the right treatment to fix her.

The arguments that Advocate.com's article cites in favor of keeping Gender Identity Disorder are for purposes of medical standing for surgery and legal standing in discrimination cases.  But I don't think either of those issues are actually affected by the change.

The new definition still affirms that gender identity is a legitimate, medically valid source of stress and psychological pain.  It just doesn't insist that the problem is boys thinking they're girls and girls thinking they're boys. (And boys and girls thinking they're either or neither...  Does my statement need to be fully inclusive if it's a characterization of a bigoted opinion?  Let me know what you think in comments.)