The Associated Press reported that the American Psychiatric Association’s Board of Trustees approved certain notable changes to that body’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders on Saturday. The story began with the controversial announcement that Asperger’s syndrome will now be included in the autism spectrum disorder category, but another change buried at the bottom of the piece may prove to be even more divisive—and, if historical precedent is any indication, more influential on society at large.
Since the third edition of the DSM was published in 1980, some version of the diagnosis gender identity disorder has been included to describe patients whose subjective experience of gender does not match their biological sex. The common contemporary term for this group is transgender, the T in LGBT. Sources within the APA now confirm that in the DSM-5, which is due to be published in May 2013, GID will be replaced with the more neutral term gender dysphoria.
Approval of this revision has been years in the making and reflects a narrowing of psychiatrists’ focus to those who experience personal distress over their gender incongruity. Those patients who feel like they need psychological help dealing with their feelings can still seek it out, while those who feel fine need not be marked as ill.