Transsexuality will no longer be classified in France as a mental illness, a government decision Saturday qualified as “historic” by the associations, on the eve of World Day against homophobia and transphobia.
Health Minister, Roselyne Bachelot, has taken these days “High health authority for a decree transsexuality leaving the category of psychiatric disorders”, said a spokesperson of the ministry.
So far, transsexuals enjoyed an exemption from user fees for medical care under a long-term ALD23 classified for “persistent or recurrent disorders”.
For the Department of Health, it is a “strong signal to the whole community”, transsexuals feeling “this admission ALD23 as stigmatizing”.
This classification, derived from that of the World Health Organization (WHO), was also linked to the fact that transsexuality was on the list of diseases identified in the medical manual DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) which refers the medical profession, just as homosexuality was there a few years.
In an article published in Le Monde dated Monday-Sunday, many people [including] first secretary of the Socialist [party] Martine Aubry, the Communist Marie-George Buffet, Green Daniel Cohn-Bendit and the Nobel Prize [winners] Françoise Barré-Sinoussi (medicine) and Elfriede Jelinek (literature), have requested WHO “to no longer consider transsexuals as mentally disordered.”
This is because the WHO had decided on 17 May 1990 [to remove] homosexuality from its list of mental illnesses, that date was chosen for the World Day against homophobia celebrated from Saturday and Sunday in many places .
It is symbolic that France chose that moment to be “the first country in the world” to “delete [transsexuality from] the list of mental illnesses,” commented the IDAHO Committee (International Day Against Homophobia and transphobia).
This “historic decision” is also “an explosion of hope for all trans people in the world,” said Joel Bedos, Secretary General of the IDAHO Committee.
The association Homosexualités et Socialisme (HES) has “welcomed” the announcement that also answers “to a claim of long-range” of the lesbian, gay, bi and trans de France (LGBT). For UAS, it is time now to move from symbol to action, fighting against violence and discrimination [...].
I absolutely agree that classifying transsexuality as a ‘psychiatric disorder’, a ‘mental illness’, a ‘disease’, is wrong – it stigmatises us in ways that only compound the negative, discriminatory and profoundly damaging views of trans people that mainstream cis society already holds.
What does concern me is if, in the forthcoming DSM-V revision, the condition is either completely decategorised (I believe that would allow healthcare authorities such as Britain’s National Health Service (NHS) and specialist healthcare insurers worldwide to stop offering support and essential services to us) or recategorised into such an extreme paraphilia that we are even more stigmatised by its pathologisation.
Worryingly, this second proposal has already been outlined by Ray Blanchard (chair of the Paraphilias Subcommittee and inventor of the mental illness he terms autogynephilia) in a paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the Society for Sex Therapy and Research (SSTAR) in April 2009 (link here; see also Julia Serano’s piece for Feministing, “Why feminists should be concerned with the impending revision of the DSM”, link here).
My fear is that this unilateral move by France, although initially seeming to be a positive thing, may actually provide ammunition for the members of the APA Task Force and Sexual and Gender Identity Disorders Workgroup in their quests to medically mandate us out of existence. Janice Raymond must be proud of them.
Previous posts about the DSM on this blog:
- APA protest – San Francisco, May 18 (May 16, 2009)
- Looking back, pushing forward (April 30, 2009)
- APA Task Force reviews possible Gender Identity Disorder treatment guidelines (April 29, 2009)
- Close the CAMH Gender Identity Clinic – Facebook group (April 28, 2009)
- OII receives a letter from Dr Zucker’s legal representatives (March 21, 2009)
- Lynn Conway targeted by Kenneth Zucker for speaking out against his appointment to the APA Task Force (March 5, 2009)
- TGEU Policy Statement on DSM Reform (November 3, 2008)
- Developing DSM-V in Secret (October 17, 2008)
- Reminder: Demo against Zucker at RSM tomorrow (1st October 2008) (September 30, 2008)
- Demonstration against Kenneth Zucker at RSM, 1st October 2008 (September 22, 2008)
- Zucker *still* to speak at RSM conference (September 9, 2009)
- Zucker to Speak At Royal Society of Medicine Conference (August 15, 2008)
- WPATH Clarification (July 19, 2008)
- With God on Our Side (July 7, 2008)
- Crazy love (June 1, 2008)
- Still mad: more on DSM-V/Zucker/Blanchard (May 18, 2008)
- Mad as hell (May 6, 2008)