WPATH, the World Professsional Association for Transgender Health – the organization formerly known as HBIGDA, or the Harry Benjamin Internaltional Gender Dysphoria Association – has issued a statement/report on their recommendations for the “gender incongruence” (formerly known as GID, & previously as gender dysphoria) for the upcoming DSM V.
Here are excerpts:
The WPATH Consensus Group believes that gender variance is not in and of itself pathological and that having a cross- or transgender identity does not constitute a psychiatric disorder (Knudson, DeCuypere, & Bockting, in press). However, the WPATH Consensus Group did not reach consensus on whether or not the diagnosis should be retained or removed. Instead, participants chose to present a continuum of positions ranging from removal to reform with the majority advocating for reform (Knudson, DeCuypere, & Bockting, in press; Ehrbar, in press, for a discussion of the pros and cons for removal or reform).
Instead of broadening the diagnosis, the WPATH Consensus Group recommends a narrowing of the diagnosis to those who experience distress associated with gender incongruence (Knudson, De Cuypere, & Bockting, in press). Therefore, we disagree with the absence of a distress component in the proposed criteria. It appears that in an honourable attempt to be inclusive of the wide spectrum of gender variance and gender variant identities, and to account for healthy, well adjusted individuals who might seek hormonal or surgical interventions, the workgroup decided to remove any component of distress or suffering which lead many transgender and transsexual individuals to seek treatment (see also Meyer-Bahlburg, 2010). Above all, it is treatment for the latter group, those who are experiencing distress or suffer, which justifies and might necessitate a diagnosis. If there is no distress or suffering and no treatment is desired, why is a diagnosis needed?
The WPATH Consensus Group recognizes that although some children present with gender dysphoria, it persists in few into adolescence or adulthood (American Psychological Association, 2009). Many of the behaviours captured in the proposed criteria are seen by many as variation in normal development, although sometimes heavily stigmatized, which a diagnostic label might reinforce (Pleak, Herbert and Shapiro, 2009). The WPATH workgroup charged with reviewing and making recommendations for revision considered to recommend removal of the childhood diagnosis, yet consensus on this issue was not achieved. What we did reach consensus on is that, if a childhood diagnosis would be retained, it should only apply to those with a desire to be of the other gender or an insistence that he or she is of the other gender, reflective of persistent and severe internal dysphoria associated with incongruence between sex assigned at birth and gender identity (Knudson, DeCuypere, & Bockting, in press).
(thanks to Courtney)