Monday, October 26, 2015

Stop Trans Pathologization Day 2015

Some People Are Transgender, and Some People Are Not, 

The slogan of the 2015 Call to Action is: Stop Trans Pathologization - Stop Pathologizing Gender Diversity in Childhood.

I have not forgotten readers as one of my savvy ones reminded me of the day but so much was on my plate recently as evidenced in the rapidity of posts on here and on Gay Jamaica Watch. Usually the day is observed on October 22 or 23 or as in this years' the 24th.


Just like any variation of the human condition, some people are left-handed, and some people are not. Some people have two different colored eyes, and some people don’t. Some people are allergic to dairy, and some people are not.

Some people are transgender, and some people are not.

In some of the trainings I do or have been apart of, I ask the question: when is gender pathological? It’s basically a trick question, because gender isn’t pathological. Gender just is. It has neither good nor bad qualities. Yes, distress can come from feeling like your exterior presentation does not match your brain gender identity, and distress can come from society not understanding your gender, but gender in and of itself isn’t distressing. It just is, and we all have a gender identity even if that gender identity means not having a gender at all.

Some people are transgender, and some people are not.

Parents come to me with various theories for why their child may be transgender, or at least “presenting” as transgender. I’ve heard many different theories over the course of my years in working with transgender children, and many similar ones. I think space needs to be held for these parents wondering “why?”, and their theories should be listened to and considered. However, sooner rather than later there needs to be a time to take the “why?” and replace that with “OK, now what?”. In the end, the “why” doesn’t really matter. What matters is the child’s happiness.

My theory?

Some people are transgender, and some people are not.

Some people wrongly believe that being transgender is some form or sign of mental illness. In fact, even some professionals will use the term “co-occurring” when they speak of someone being transgender along with having a mental illness. Being transgender is not a mental illness. There is not a certain “type” of person with a certain set of presenting problems who is transgender. Say it with me:

Some people are transgender, and some people are not.

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International Day of Action for Trans Depathologization, an annual day created by Campaign Stop Trans Pathologization.  
Let’s stop pathologizing gender… because simply some people are transgender, and some people are not.

Some history via a press release from the campaign:

The International Day of Action for Trans Depathologization 2014, convened by STP, International Campaign Stop Trans Pathologization1, took place on Saturday, October 18, 2014. Within the framework of this Call to Action, 108 groups and organizations coordinated more than 90 actions for trans depathologization in 45 cities of different world regions throughout this day and the entire month of October under the slogan “Stop Trans Pathologization - Stop Pathologizing Gender Diversity in Childhood – For the Diversity of Gender Expressions and Identities”. Furthermore, to date 390 groups, organizations and activist networks in six continents, as well as numerous individuals have declared their support of STP, International Campaign Stop Trans Pathologization.
 
The International Day of Action for Trans Depathologization 2014 is the sixth edition of this Call to Action, celebrated each year since 2009 on an international level with the objective of demanding the removal of the diagnostic classification of gender transition as a ‘mental disorder’ and claiming state-funded access to a trans health care of the highest attainable quality. Other relevant demands include the removal of the diagnostic classification of gender diversity in childhood, the change of the trans health care model from the current assessment model towards an approach based on informed decision making, the legal recognition of name and gender without medical requirements, as well as the protection of trans people against discrimination and transphobic violence.

In relation to the revision process of the ICD, International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems, developed by the WHO, World Health Organization, we evaluate positively 1. The removal of trans-specific categories from the chapter ‘Mental and behavioural disorders’, and 2. The publication of the proposal of new trans-specific categories, elaborated by the WHO Working Group on.
   the Classification of Sexual Disorders and Sexual Health, in the ICD-11 Beta Draft
In order to facilitate public coverage, STP proposes the inclusion of a non-pathologizing mention of trans health care in the ICD-11, as a health care process not based on disease or disorder. We consider the inclusion of a new trans-specific category addressing adolescents and adults in the ICD-11 Beta Draft chapter ‘Conditions related to sexual health’ to meet our proposal in part. However, we are still concerned with regards to 1. The presence of pathologizing categories in the chapter ‘Conditions related to sexual health’, 2. The use of the concept ‘Gender incongruence’ in the title and the definition of the new trans-specific categories, and 3. The continued inclusion of a diagnostic classification of gender diversity in childhood, under the title ‘Gender incongruence of childhood’. 
  
We continue to demand the complete removal of the diagnostic classification of gender diversity in childhood, as mentioned in former press releases and reflective texts. In order to avoid the pathologizing connotations of the concept ‘Gender incongruence’, we propose the use of a descriptive language in the title and definition of a new trans-specific category addressing adolescents and adults (using a concept such as ‘Trans Health Care’ of ‘Health Care related to Gender Transition’). Finally, we suggest giving a non-pathologizing approach to the chapter ‘Conditions related to sexual health’, according to the definition of ‘sexual health’ established by the WHO, World Health Organization.
 
We would like to highlight that the removal of the trans-specific categories from the chapter ‘Mental and behavioural disorders’ in the ICD-11 Beta Draft, as well as the inclusion of new trans-related categories in the chapter ‘Conditions related to sexual health’ have proposal status, and therefore are still subject to changes and pending approval of ICD-11 by the World Health Assembly, expected in 2017
  
While we identify some recent advancements in the field of trans rights and trans depathologization, we nevertheless continue to observe situations of pathologization, psychiatrization, discrimination and social exclusion of trans people worldwide, including a high level of exposure to transphobic violence and institutional ill-treatment. For these reasons, we continue to view trans depathologization activism as relevant, not only in providing critical knowledge to the revision processes of diagnostic manuals, but also in working through broader social change towards societies that are welcoming of gender diversity. 
  
We would like to express our deepest acknowledgment to the groups and organizations in different world regions which, once more, have participated in the International Day of Action for Trans Depathologization. 
  
Stop Trans Pathologization! Stop Pathologizing Gender Diversity in Childhood!  For the Diversity of Gender Expressions and Identities! 
  
Coordination Team of STP, International Campaign Stop Trans Pathologization, October 18, 2014. 

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