A short time ago, I’d [Mercedes Allen] discussed the movement to have “Gender Identity Disorder” (GID, a.k.a. “Gender Dysphoria”) removed from the DSM-IV or reclassified, and how we needed to work to ensure that any such change was an improvement on the existing model, rather than a scrapping or savaging of it.
Lynn Conway reports that on May 1st, 2008, the American Psychiatric Association named its work group members appointed to revise the Manual for Diagnosis of Mental Disorders in preparation for the DSM-V. Such a revision would include the entry for GID.
On the Task Force, named as Sexual and Gender Identity Disorders Chair, we find Dr. Kenneth Zucker, from Toronto’s infamous Centre for Addictions and Mental Health (CAMH, formerly the Clarke Institute). Dr. Zucker is infamous for utilizing reparative (i.e. “ex-gay”) therapy to “cure” gender-variant children. Named to his work group, we find Zucker’s mentor, Dr. Ray Blanchard, Head of Clinical Sexology Services at CAMH and creator of the theory of autogynephilia, categorized as a paraphilia and defined as “a man’s paraphilic tendency to be sexually aroused by the thought or image of himself as a woman.”
Drs. Blanchard, Zucker, J. Michael Bailey (whose work has even gone so far as to touch on eugenics) and a small cadre of others are proponents of dividing the transsexual population by sexual orientation (”homosexual transsexuals” vs. “autogynephilic”) and have repeatedly run afoul of the World Professional Association for Transgender Health (WPATH, formerly HBIGDA), and openly defied the Standards of Care that WPATH maintains (modeled after the original SoC developed by Dr. Harry Benjamin) in favor of conversion techniques. Blanchard and Bailey supporters also include Dr. Alice Dreger, who re-stigmatized treatment of intersex, controversial sexologist Dr. Anne Lawrence, and Dr. Paul McHugh, who had set out in the begining of his career to close the Gender Clinic at Johns Hopkins University and has been one of our most vocal detractors.
An additional danger that gay and lesbian communities need to be cognizant of is that if Zucker and company entrench conversion therapy in the DSM-V, then it is a clear, dangerous step toward also legitimizing **ex-gay therapy and re-stigmatizing homosexuality...
The call to action, thus far:
The APA press release states that for further information regarding this, to contact Rhondalee Dean-Royce (email@example.com) and Sharon Reis (firstname.lastname@example.org), though it’s possible that they may govern the press release only, rather than have any involvement in the decision to appoint Zucker. The APA itself is headquartered at 1000 Wilson Boulevard, Suite 1825, Arlington VA, 22209. Their Annual General Meeting is currently being held (May 3-8, 2008) in Washington, DC.
I’m poorly situated (Western Canada, with no travel budget) to lead the drive for this, which I see as a very serious danger to the transgender community. So I am calling on the various Transgender and GLBT organizations to band together to take action on this, and will assist in whatever way that I and AlbertaTrans can.
I am also calling upon our allies and advocates in the medical community and affiliated with WPATH to band together with us and combat this move which could potentially see WPATH stripped of its authority on matters regarding treatment of transsexuals.
Yeah, about that ex-gay therapy. Here's a bit of how that works, one of many such stories:
For three years I had weekly sessions with Dr. Joseph Nicolosi, president of the National Association for the Research and Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH). Dr. Nicolosi thought that homosexuality was a pathology, a sublimated desire to reconnect with one’s lost masculinity. The theory: under-attentive fathers and over-attentive mothers create gay children. The purpose of therapy was to put me in touch with my masculine identity and thereby change my sexual orientation.
I would like to say that I resisted therapy throughout, but the truth is that I liked and respected Dr. Nicolosi. And the theory sounded plausible (I was too young to know that plausible does not mean true). It is a period in my life that I do not think about often, not because it hurts especially but because it has become increasingly irrelevant.
...Years after I stopped therapy, I requested the case notes, knowing they would be destroyed after seven years. They provided an annotated collection of long-forgotten events. Next to the description of an argument with a male friend, Dr. Nicolosi scribbled “needs to look at the real source.” This was code: whatever the problem, it would be traced back to my lost masculine sense of self; I was angry because my friend had not paid attention to me as my father had not. Much of therapy also involved uncovering the numerous ways in which my parents had cheated me (as a teenager, I was more than happy to blame things on them).
Disgust with what was termed the “gay lifestyle” was implicit in therapy. I remember Dr. Nicolosi telling me, in response to the question of whether one could easily contract HIV from semen, that if this were the case then gays would be “jerking off in hamburgers all over” to infect people.
I learned to be a man: I was encouraged to play catch with my father, work out, watch football. At one point Dr. Nicolosi assigned me a therapy partner who was my age. Ryan and I used to speak by phone (he was in Colorado, I in Arizona), gossiping about school, at one point promising to send each other pictures of ourselves (the canker was already on the rose). After not hearing from him for a few weeks I called his family, who told me that Ryan had gone to court and emancipated himself from them. His father, in tears, told me this had ruined his life...
And just in case you -still- are under the delusion that right-wing Christian fundamentalists are somehow going to be better friends to trans folk than they are to lesbigay people, in the U.S. or elsewhere:
that guy Zucker? who's on the new APA committee? Here's what you're getting in bed with, "radical feminists" who "question transgender," gay folks who believe that all this trans stuff is none of our business and a distraction from the real issues, and basically anyone who gives a damn about human rights viz a viz gender, sex, and mental health but doesn't see the problem here:
Zucker has long been a self-proclaimed "leading figure" in the care of gender variant children. Many hundreds of such children have been forced through his infamous facility (formerly known as The Clarke Institute) by their parents and by the centralized Canadian health care system, and have been coerced there into denying their innate gender feelings - at least while young and under the control of Zucker.
Zucker is widely-known for his insistence that feminine boys "drop the Barbie", and for his strict enforcement of traditional masculinity on boy children as a means of "curing GID". Zucker is especially focused on prevention of transsexualism, considering gender transition to be a very bad outcome. In the process, Zucker has become the darling of groups like the Catholic Education Center and the National Association for Research and Therapy on Homosexuality (NARTH) (more), which have highly promoted his work among their homophobic and transphobic constituencies.
In March 2007 NARTH published a report entitled "Gender Identity Disorders In Childhood And Adolescence: A Critical Inquiry And Review Of The Kenneth Zucker Research". In that report, NARTH lauds Zucker's reversion therapy at CAMH (aka The Clarke Institute), in which he psychologically intervenes to "cure" childhood GID, seeing it as a way to "cure" homosexuality too. The report concludes:
"Zucker’s priority is “helping these kids be happily male or female,” but he also acknowledges that the treatment process does, in some cases, apparently avert homosexual development . And in support of parents’ rights to avert a homosexual outcome for their children, Zucker cites a persuasive quote from Richard Green: “The right of parents to oversee the development of children is a long -established principle. Who is to dictate that parents may not try to raise their children in a manner that maximizes the possibility of a heterosexual outcome?"" -- NARTH, March 2007