Monday, May 18, 2009

Vive la France!

Again, trust the French to get it right.

On May 16th the French Health Ministry (formally, "la Haute autorité de la Santé (HAS)") declassified transsexuality from the list of "psychiatric disorders of long duration." Hallelujah.

And the status change should be accomplishable without surgery. I believe that so far, only Spain allows this. The proponents invite the World Health Organization (WHO) to take the next step to similarly declassify transsexuality.

It should be noted that in so classifying transsexuality, the WHO looked to the American Psychiatric Association's Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM). Significantly, the APA is holding its annual meeting this week in San Francisco. Today, May 18th, transgender activists protested the proposed DSM revisions that would continue to stigmatize us with mental illness diagnoses.

Cynically, HRC President Joe Solmonese is shouting louder than ever his support for the trans community, even though he's persona non grata with us. In September 2007 he swore to a cheering crowd at the Southern Comfort trans conference in Atlanta that HRC would never support an Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) that did not include trans people. Just three weeks later Nancy Pelosi and Barney Frank sold the trans community down the river by removing us from ENDA. None of Solmonese's fancy footwork and obfuscations could paper-over the fact that he wholesale forgot his promise and went along with this patent betrayal.

Some trans folk worry that removal of transsexuality from the DSM will mean that they will lose out on things like insurance coverages that rely on the DSM's mental illness diagnosis. That may be but it's likely they will retain coverage as transsexuality is increasingly recognized as a straightforward medical/health issue. The AMA is already of this opinion. It's the better way. The current mental illness diagnosis is simply too stigmatizing and carries too many detractors to be worth holding onto. It has to go because it's simply factually wrong.

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