Monday, June 23, 2008

Transitioning on the Job: Part One

This past week, I made the decision to begin identifying as male. The decision to be male-identified and start hormone therapy hasn’t been a sudden one for me, but it’s been building for the past several years. Anyone who has known me over the past few years is probably not particularly surprised. I’m harboring relatively few serious concerns about this transition, mostly out of awareness that I have an incredibly trans-aware and trans-identified group of friends and that my girlfriend is the most supportive person in the world. Opening this door makes me feel as though a huge weight has been lifted off my chest, and I’m very excited to be undertaking this process.

This past week, however, I began to worry about returning to my school in the fall as “Mr. K” and going by male pronouns. Ultimately, my school is not a bad place to be a transsexual, especially relative to many public schools I’ve heard about. “Gender identity and expression” are protected in the employment non-discrimination laws of New York City. I have a vocal and strong support base among my colleagues, several of whom are queer-identified. I’ve begun conversations about how best to handle my transition with a few colleagues for whom I have tremendous respect as educators and as individuals. Two colleagues have offered to accompany me in my “I’m becoming a man” meeting with my principal. After communication has been established with administrators, we’re hoping that Respect for All can eventually direct conversation towards the general school climate with respect to LGBT awareness. My transition is simply one of several examples illustrating the need for education and dialogue around LGBT issues in our school.

Though these factors clearly fuel a great deal of optimism and hopefulness, I’m beginning to feel the onset of a few anxieties that are, perhaps, inevitable in this situation. These anxieties have to do with the increased scrutiny and potential threats to my job security brought on by such an unavoidably public and visible transition (two thirds of the school next year will have known me as “Ms. K”). I’m not particularly concerned about what the many members of what I call the “frat boys club” and the “old boys club” at my school personally think and feel about trans issues. It seems like a given that some of my colleagues will believe that they have never met a transsexual before, and that I might be a story they tell their buddies at happy hour. Their potential to incite suspicion about me and my teaching as a result of my identity seems like a more pressing matter – and in my mind, it has everything to do with the obligation of teachers to demonstrate basic respect for others’ identities on a daily basis.

Education and professional development around trans identities and the rights of trans people are crucial in ensuring the respect and safety of students and employees in our school. The nervous and pessimistic part of me worries that my school will fail to encourage thoughtful conversation about and inquiry into LGBT issues, and will instead pretend that they do not have a tremendous affect on the daily lives of many of our students, faculty, and staff. Students in our school are coming out or on the verge of coming out as LGBT, teachers and staff in the school are LGBT identified, and many people in the building have family members, friends, and neighbors who are queer or trans. The encouragement of respectful, thoughtful conversation about LGBT issues must become inextricably linked to professionalism for teachers in our school – and I’m worried that a core group of my colleagues will attempt to prevent this from happening.

I hate to border on paranoid, but my teaching career began with an unpleasantly transphobic experience with the Department of Education that has left a lasting impression. I was slated to begin my first year of teaching at a middle school in Brooklyn in the fall of 2006, and the day before I was to report I received a phone call informing me that a) I had been “excessed” and therefore had to start the search for a new job and b) there was a rumor circulating around the district of my original school that I was going to have a “sex change operation.” I knew that it was no coincidence that I heard about these two facts in the same conversation, and I set out to get to the root of my being excessed. When I approached the principal of my original school, he offered me a position teaching science in a clear attempt to cover his ass. Needless to say, instead of expressing gratefulness about the scraps he tossed me, I decided to take my chances in the job search. In what I still consider to be a stroke of luck, I landed at my current school.

This first experience with the Department of Education and trans issues makes me a bit hesitant to trust that my administration will not seek to find ways either to excess me or to dismiss this transition in a way that allows my colleagues – and as a result, my students – to disrespect my identity and the identities of any gender variant people in the school. All it takes is one teacher, or one parent of one student, to spark controversy and confrontation. I incorporate many radical and queer pedagogical methods into my classroom, and I believe in opening discourse to push students intellectually instead of closing it down. In the back of my mind, I fear that the aspects of my teaching that have led me to invite students to learn about and discuss the deaths of Lawrence King and Sean Bell, for examples, might quickly become suspicious in an atmopshere of heightened scrutiny.

I know several trans teachers, but right now I’m searching for educators who have had a similar experience of transitioning while at their schools - if you know of anyone, kindly send them my way.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

"It's Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve"

The countdown to the last day of school on June 26th feels excruciating right now. Last week, students went on field trips and made art as part of a school-wide Integrated Projects Week, and now it’s back to a week and a half in their regular classrooms. Their rampant "summer fever" and overheated classrooms with no air conditioning make a potentially explosive combination.

To end the year as smoothly as possible, I've decided to incorporate some random, fun writing exercises into everyday lessons. Yesterday I gave students the prompt: "If you could change any historical event, what would you change? Why, and how, would you change it? How would that have affected the course of history?" Most of my students responded enthusiastically to this prompt, writing pages and pages of creative and thoughtful reflections on significant moments in history. Chosen events included, among others: September 11th, the day Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated, and the day laser pointers were banned from schools.

In my morning class yesterday, students’ share-out time was productive and pleasant, until we came to a student who did not answer the question provided by the prompt. He gave me a big smile and stated loudly "I wrote about gay marriage, and how it's like my mom has said, God made Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve."

For some background, this student has become an increasingly negative presence in his class as the year has progressed. Though he is an excellent reader, his writing abilities lag behind, and he adamantly refuses to do most classwork and homework. Even more frustratingly, he often distracts other students who are not as strong in reading as he is by making fun of them or staring at them to try to make them uncomfortable (as several of the girls in the class have mentioned to me). At the same time, I would call him one of the most intellectually advanced students I teach. He critiques power dynamics in a remarkably sophisticated way for a twelve-year-old. When he respects his own intelligence, his impulses to challenge ideas and authority are - in my opinion - admirable.

In class yesterday, however, his "gay marriage" statement was neither nuanced nor well-thought-out. It was abundantly clear that he said it in order to get a rise out of me (because I have been on his case recently) and to impress the class by proclaiming his disdain for gay marriage in front of an openly queer teacher. Fortunately, the rest of the class did not indulge him but generally ignored his comment. I calmly asked him: "So, what is your answer to the question? What would you change?" Not expecting this, he fumbled for a response and ultimately conceded "I don't know."

In my afternoon class, one student shared writing that began “If I could change one thing, I would kill George W. Bush before he got elected.” He continued to state that “Bush is a gay, mean, horrible, awful, old man.” This particular student was trying to capitalize on shock value, but not with his use of the word "gay" - he provided graphic descriptions of how the president’s privates should be cut off. That’s where I stopped him, in the middle of his sharing, to remind everybody that gratuitous violence is neither acceptable nor intellectually useful in my classroom.

This student made some very legitimate points about George W. Bush, though he was problematically using vocabulary of violence and homophobia to get these points across. When students returned to their seats to read independently after the sharing out time, I called the student up to my desk to discuss what had happened and why I had asked him to stop. The one-on-one conversation worked wonders. I explained that I had been confused when he used the word “gay” as a synonym for “horrible” or “George W. Bush,” which does not correlate with my understanding of what it means to be “gay”. The student happily engaged with me in a context removed from peer pressures and being put on the spot, stating that he had not meant any personal insult to me. He ultimately recognized that he could have used the breadth of his vocabulary to build his case against George W. Bush without resorting to homophobia or excessive violence to convey his passion.

I think I’m inclined to be too hard on myself about yesterday’s flare-up of LGBT-related negativity in my classroom. Ultimately, though, I step back and use my responses to yesterday’s moments as a watermark indicating how much I've grown as an educator over the past two years. To give myself some credit, my reaction in both situations sent the important message that blatant homophobia or derogatory uses of the word "gay" will not go unchallenged or unaddressed in my classroom. At the same time, I was opening conversation and inviting opinions, rather than shutting intellectual doors. The simultaneity of those two actions is absolutely crucial in a public middle school.

I continue to aspire to be the kind of teacher who can successfully navigate such challenging moments on a consistent basis. I can never entirely control or predict what will occur in the space of my classroom – nor would I want to. Taking this fact into consideration, my reactions to students' thoughts and my encouragement of them to be self-reflective become an instrumental aspect of my queer and radical pedagogy.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

This is not what bravery looks like.

A teacher colleague (and friend) wrote me today about what he called my “courage” for “standing up, being visible, saying the truth, taking risks, being a leader, teaching teachers and policy makers, changing the climate …”

I have to say: This is not what bravery looks like. I appreciate the compliment from the bottom of my heart, but this is not bravery. Robert Anthony once said, “Courage is simply the willingness to be afraid and act anyway." I have rarely been afraid. Because, unlike teachers, I flit into schools as a guest speaker, and the institution has less power over me. And because I happen to work for a city and county and public health department that have always had my back. The voters in this place and the honorable people they elect passed ordinances prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation decades ago. And my supervisors and their supervisors have always stood up for the need to protect the health and well-being of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, gender variant and transgender youth and families of King County.

Courage would be working to end homophobia and racism under threat of losing my job or, God forbid, my spouse and children. I have never faced those threats. Teachers all over the country do that every day.

Courage would be working to end homophobia and racism even as people were repeatedly stealing your identity and cyberharassing you … as happened to this teacher friend twice this year. Students set up false web pages purporting to be him and containing lies about him. Twice. Courage is remaining in the profession and continuing to teach social justice, even as the student "contributors" to those fake sites go unpunsihed.

Courage would be working to end homophobia and racism even as graffiti about you continues to shout from the walls of the restrooms, and the school refuses for weeks to paint over it. That’s what my colleague Kyle did this year, his senior year in high school. He, too, was cyberbullied and received death threats to his face and online. Courage is to keep going to school every day and even continuing to insist that the school stand up for your friends in the gay-straight alliance, knowing that you will graduate and be gone.

Courage would be having a teacher keep mocking the way you speak, as has been happening to my grandson this year in high school, and still going to class and trying to pass! He tells me he hears the N-word all the time at school and teachers don’t intervene. Being an African-American kid in a mostly Caucasian school for the first time in his life is taking a toll on him this year. And yet, he goes back every day. That’s courage.

I think that those of us who don’t work in schools sometimes forget just how fragile the safety of teachers and students really is. Or we think it must be better in 2008. Or we imagine that we would have courage like that of Martin Luther King and be willing to die and leave our spouse a widow and single parent for our principles.

It’s easy to be glib when you lose perspective like that. Earlier this year, I spoke at the Northwest premiere of the film It’s STILL Elementary. I said, almost with disdain, that ten years ago, when the filmmakers were scouring the country looking for teachers and principals willing to be filmed addressing gay issues in schools … I said that nobody in Washington State was brave enough, even if they were addressing sexual diversity, to allow the camera into the classroom. We hunted and couldn’t find a single school. I said it as if it were an indictment, a description of cowardice. I’m ashamed of myself. I apologize.

“Cowardice” is not even remotely a description of a teacher who intervenes in anti-gay or anti-racist bullying and who finds ways to dispel students’ stereotypes and replace them with accurate portrayals of sexually and racially diverse people … and who decides not to risk being allowed to continue that life-saving work by going on camera. I apologize for the implied disrespect.

I promise to keep cognizant of just how scary life is – still in 2008 -- for so many school employees and students.

-- by Beth Reis

LGBT Youth "Success Stories" and The Prom

Several news stories have recently popped up about LGBT youth fighting for their rights to attend their high school proms. As someone who came of age in a mostly white, mostly middle-class high school, I can understand the challenges queer and trans youth can face in trying to enter the classically heteronormative and gender normative sphere that is The Prom. Teenagers who have stood up for their right to be safe while participating in this school activity, in the face of explicit transphobia and homophobia, have huge potential to inspire and encourage other LGBT youth in similar situations. To this day, I wish I had had an older model of such courage at my high school.

At the same time, part of me responds with skepticism to this media emphasis on queer and trans youth attending proms. This part of me is concerned not with the personal and potential political significance of the act of queers and trans people going to proms, but rather with the allocation of media and political energies. Media hype around prom rights can function to reduce LGBT youth issues and success stories in a similar way that media hype around gay marriage rights can reduce LGBT adult issues and success stories. Is winning gay marriage a valuable political step in terms of federal policy? Quite possibly. Is it the most important and pressing issue facing all LGBT individuals, across the board? No. Was the recent victory over the Scottsdale, Al. school board that attempted to ban two lesbians from attending a high school prom together important? Definitely. Is attending high school proms the most important and pressing issue facing all – or even most - LGBT youth? Absolutely not.

While I think many LGBT groups and individuals do keep this in mind, the reporting on proms that reinforces particular narratives of “success” for trans and queer youth bears examination. The possibility of attending proms only affects youth who attend high school, and continue on with high school once they begin. This depends on numerous factors, many of which are out of a teenager’s control. Among high school students, only those who have the money and resources to purchase the trappings required for a prom (clothes and tickets, for example) and who have living situations (in terms of family/guardianship and location) in which they would be able to attend such school activities are affected by this. Proms are a predominantly middle class issue, and I believe that is important to consider.

I notice an overwhelming absence of “success stories” about queer and trans youth who, for example, experience homelessness and need to do sex work to survive - unless they’ve “cleaned up” according to normative societal standards. There is a tremendous number of LGBT youth successes that are not recognized as such by the general public and by mainstream – or even queer - media. This is disappointing.

The bravery of LGBT students who fight for the right to attend their schools’ proms absolutely must be applauded and appreciated. It is also, however, crucial that we remember that there are many ways to be a successful LGBT youth, in order to avoid invisibilizing the stories of many young people who do not fit these particular narratives. The problems about proms extend beyond whether or not LGBT youth can safely attend them. The implication of even holding a prom, considering the homophobic and transphobic history of the event, warrants discussion. As an educator, one of the most effective ways I can address the valorization of certain LGBT youth narratives over others is to open critical discourse about proms - and what they stand for, and what they do - among my colleagues.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

SSC's Kyle Rapinan and Beth Reis quoted in article on Alternet today

Even with the law on their side, GLBT students still have to struggle to take same-sex partners to prom.

When I was in high school in the mid-'60s, it never occurred to lesbians and gays to go to their proms with a same-sex partner.
... and
I had a long talk with a 17-year-old Seattle lad named Kyle Rapinan. As a kid who was homeless for a few years (he's with a foster family now), who is out in school and who is a leader in his school's Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA), he has been the target of a lot of scary bullying, he told me. This has involved everything from obscenities on the school's bathroom walls to mean and threatening postings on social networking sites like YouTube, MySpace and Facebook.

The cyber brutality has been particularly difficult, as Kyle sees academic achievement as his one route out of a difficult life. He's worried about the impact of all this online junk on his professional life in the future. "Getting bullied," he said, "was really depressing. If it wasn't for the GSA at my school, I'd go crazy."

He took his boyfriend to his prom a couple of weeks ago, despite the harassment.
... and
One of the other prominent national organizations supporting GLBT youth is the Safe Schools Coalition (SCC). Co-chair Beth Reis tells me that SSC has provided intervention specialists to work with individual gay kids who become targets of attacks.
... and
The proms organized especially for gay kids are an essential alternative, Reis believes. "We have an obligation as an adult community to bridge the gap until such time as every high school prom feels totally safe and every same-sex date situation there seems totally unremarkable."

However, she admires the kids who stand up to the opposition and attend traditional proms with same-sex partners. "It's incredible that some young people have what it takes to endure sometimes brutal harassment from peers and from the community."
Read this whole article:
GLBT Youth Fight for the Right to Party at Prom
by Sue Katz - AlterNet - June 11, 2008
and please comment on it here and on the Alternet site.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Don't Take it Personally...

As the end of the school year approaches, it becomes easier and easier to take what students say as a personal attack. To successfully do my job and be a responsible adult, I must understand that the words and actions of my students have more to do with themselves than with anybody else - but with less than three weeks left, I can feel myself losing patience and perspective. On my more selfish and self-victimizing days, it can feel like stepping into my classroom inherently means I consent to constant ridicule and criticism. This line of thought is absolutely ridiculous, I realize - if there is anyone wielding an inordinate and oppressive amount of power in my classroom, it is me.

Instead of placing "blame" on students for whom cruelty to others is simply a necessary part of their adolescence and nothing to do with me specifically, I consider the crux of the problem my lack of community around LGBT issues. While several teachers at my school are out to their peers as gay or lesbian, none of my colleagues or friends who teach at other schools are, to my knowledge, explicitly out to their students. Many educators I know can and do discuss abstract instances of homophobia – when one student calls another a "faggot," for example. But I do not personally know any other teachers who have watched one of their students point at them and say "I can't stand her class because I don't like gay people" (in a conference among this students' parents and all of his teachers, my colleagues). I also do not know of any other teachers who have received a message from one of their students reading "shut the fuck up you fucken pussy licker faget," as I did a few months ago from one of my sixth grade students.

The way my "authority" is undermined through these displays of homophobia causes me much more anxiety than I often admit. While my sixth graders may be twelve years old, their parents and many of the people in their spheres are not. From what I have seen and heard about, it is considered a matter of fact that parents often share or even encourage their student's homophobic sentiments. When a queer or trans teacher is criticized, it is impossible to know who – if anybody – will step up to defend us. Merely having used the word "queer" to identify myself to students could be grounds for increased scrutiny or suspicion.

When my aforementioned student stated in a parent-teacher conference that he didn't like my class because I am queer, I did not respond. To do so would imply that I need to defend myself or my identity – which I refuse to do. I did appreciate it when one of the other teachers at the meeting firmly established that the student needs to get over his issues with gay people if he expects to continue in public schools, where he will learn about "all different kinds of people." However, it was difficult to determine how the student's parents were reacting to this message. His father sat there and appeared to scowl.

Just two weeks ago, the mother of a student who is failing my class came to the school to speak to the Assistant Principal. She blamed her daughter's grades and disruptiveness on "a personality difference" between her and me. Her daughter has done no classwork and no homework for months, and she distracts other students during class on a daily basis. This student is currently failing multiple classes, and I have spoken with her other teachers and discovered that they take similar issue to her work and behavior. But for some reason, this student's mother did not use "personality difference" excuses with regards to any of the other teachers. When I brought this student to the Principal’s Office during my lunch period recently, it seemed as though the principal gave her more credit than she gave me.

Some would call me paranoid for feeling this way. However, considering the current climate in public education – which pushes administrators to do anything to minimize complaints and criticisms leveled against their schools – I worry that it would be easier to turn against an openly queer and gender variant teacher than to stand by me.

This brings up the question: Who bears the burdens to “be careful” in public schools? It seems that queer and trans teachers are weighed down more heavily by the burden of “carefulness” than some others. When I had my students read an article about the homophobic murder of Lawrence King, I was admonished by several colleagues to ‘be careful” bringing up such “mature” topics with middle school students. Another teacher at my school, though - a white, straight, normatively gendered man - apparently didn't feel any obligation to "be careful" last week when many teachers overheard him shouting to an eighth grade boy "What happened, did you lose your vagina?"

When I inform my colleagues that I am out as queer to my students, I often get “wow, how is that?” and “how does your administration feel about that?” Many people express incredulity that administrators and parents could have possibly not voiced some kind of problem. I almost sense a vague "tsk tsk" in some people's voices, as though I should know what to expect in being out, and particularly in allowing queerness and sexual orientation to arise as fodder for discussion, in my classroom. If I lose my job for allowing students to learn about such "mature" topics as the etymology of the word "faggot" or what "homophobia" means, then in the minds of some people I will have deserved it.

If it were not a large risk to one’s job security, I know for a fact that many more educators would come out and be open about their identities. If it did not entail putting your neck on the line in some way, more educators would push students to think critically about homophobia, transphobia, and social justice. As it stands, the emphasis of the public education system and the national government are to blame teachers for as much as possible, which puts pressure on teachers to cram every minute of every lesson with content that No Child Left Behind has deemed "valuable." I feel I constantly have to be careful, and that all it takes is one wrong step - and I don’t think I’m crazy for thinking that.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Safe Schools Coalition & Seattle Pride Parade 2008!

From: Eric Albert-Gauthier
Sent: Wednesday, June 04, 2008
Subject: Safe Schools Coalition - Seattle Pride Parade
Importance: High

June 2, 2008

The Seattle Out and Proud Board of Directors would like to extend our heartfelt congratulations on the selection of Safe Schools Coalition as a Grand Marshal for the 2008 Seattle Pride Parade. You should feel proud of the accomplishments you have achieved for the lesbian, gay, bi-sexual and transgender community. You were nominated and selected from the Seattle LGBT Community.

That’s why we are proud to have you lead the parade on Sunday, June 29th in downtown Seattle.

If you choose to accept this honor, please send a logo or picture and a bio for Safe Schools Coalition that we can use in print and on the web.

Please let me know if you accept this honor, and then I can provide you with more information.

-Eric --
Eric Albert-Gauthier


June 5, 2008

Safe Schools Coalition selected as Grand Marshal of the Seattle Pride Parade!

The Coalition is proud to announce that The Seattle Out and Proud Board of Directors has chosen us to serve as a Grand Marshal of the (June 29) 2008 Seattle Pride Parade!!

This was the letter of nomination:
The Safe Schools Coalition was the spark that, 20 years ago this year, ignited the international movement for LGBTQ-safe-and-welcoming-schools. The Coalition did ground-breaking research that documented the anti-LGBTQ humiliation and the physical and sexual assaults happening in elementary middle and high schools all over the state. Today, the Coalition helps schools become safe places for every student, family and employee regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity or expression.

The Coalition’s members now include some national organizations and groups in other states, but it was founded in Seattle and still is largely the work of local volunteers and organizations, especially Public Health – Seattle & King County, the Washington Education Association, Lifelong AIDS Alliance, American Friends Service Committee, King County Sexual Assault Resource Center, Planned Parenthood of Western Washington, Greater Seattle Business Association, and Seattle Counseling Service for Sexual Minorities.

The Safe Schools Coalition trains teachers and principals and other school staff. It provides crisis intervention in Washington State for students experiencing anti-LGBTQ abuse at school. It provides an internationally respected listserve and web site that serve as clearinghouses where educators, parents and student activists from Aberdeen to Zimbabwe can find the tools they need from inclusive lesson plans, policies, books, and films to training tools.

The Coalition addresses oppression in its broadest sense, even as it focuses on heterosexism, homophobia and transphobia. It's always prided itself on serving schools as a trusted resource rather than as an adversarial outsider. And it is often unsung at events like Pride because it tries to shine the spotlight on its member organizations instead of the Coalition as a whole. Maybe this 20th anniversary year is the year to shift the spotlight of appreciation on the umbrella organization that so many people all over the world count on for resources and consultation.

See you there!

Seattle Pride

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Does the APA Think We're Idiots?

On May 18, I criticized the APA’s decision to include Kenneth Zucker and Ray Blanchard on the committee to review its statements on Gender Identity Disorder (see "The Nationwide Attack on Queer and Trans Youth Continues"). Below is the APA’s recently issued “Statement on Gender Identity Disorder and the Planned Revision of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual" along with their response to two questions that concerned individuals might have about the committee.

I find their excuses hollow and their response completely inadequate, so here are ten of the many questions I have after reading this statement:

1 - What kind of “leadership position” among scientists and professionals is the APA committed to taking, exactly?

2 - Why is the 2005 appointed task force only reviewing APA policies and “scientific” literature, and not other sources as well?

3 - How can the APA “develop recommendations for education, training, practice, and further research” if they are only looking into conclusions that have been drawn by scientists and professionals about gender variance?

4 - What roles do trans and gender variant individuals have in the APA’s study, other than as specimens to be examined?

5 - How can the APA fail to once question the notion that “treatment” is necessary for gender variance?

6 - How can the APA turn a blind eye to the fact that pathologizing GID and determining a need for “treatment” create the stigma that the APA is purporting to discourage?

7 - What does “appropriate, nondiscriminatory” psychological treatment look like, and why doesn’t the APA describe it in this letter?

8 - How does the APA expect us to calm down and back off when the possibility of de-pathologization is not mentioned anywhere here?

9 - How dare the APA defend Kenneth Zucker as a “well-qualified psychologist” and simultaneously claim that they do not promote stigma and discrimination against trans people?

10 - Does the APA actually think we will just sit our hands and let this happen?

* * * * * * * * * * *

"Statement on Gender Identity Disorder and the Planned Revision of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual" from the American Psychological Association

APA Office of Public Affairs (202) 336-5700 May 2008

There has been some recent confusion regarding the American Psychological Association and work being done on the next version of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM). The DSM is a publication of the American Psychiatric Association (ApA), not the American Psychological Association (APA). Questions regarding the DSM-V and the Sexual and Gender Identity Disorders Work Group should be directed to ApA.

For many years, the American Psychological Association has worked to end discrimination, including discrimination based on sex, gender identity and sexual orientation. APA is committed to taking a leadership position among the mental health professionals, scientists and scholars who are addressing the issues surrounding gender identity and transgenderism. APA formed a task force in 2005 to study gender identity and gender variance. This group has been reviewing both the scientific literature and APA policies related to these issues and developing recommendations for education, training, practice, and further research. The task force has completed a report that is slated to be presented to APA's governing Council of Representatives in August. It will make a series of recommendations, including that APA call upon psychologists to provide appropriate, nondiscriminatory treatment to all transgender and gender-variant individuals. It is expected that the Council will adopt the report and its recommendations.

The task force did not take a position with regard to the gender identity disorder diagnosis because there was no consensus among its members. Indeed, there is no consensus among professionals working in the field; reputable scientists continue to disagree about GID. Regardless of the disagreement concerning the GID diagnosis, there is a need for greater consensus on treatment of gender dysphoria. The task force strongly supports the development of practice guidelines for transgender clients.

APA believes that no psychological disorder should be stigmatized or used as the basis for discrimination. People who are concerned about issues having to do with their gender identity should have access to appropriate and non-discriminatory treatment. Mental health providers need to educate themselves about how to provide such care.

Responses to Possible Questions:

Q.What is the American Psychological Association's position with regard to the appointment of Dr. Kenneth Zucker and Dr. Ray Blanchard to the work group reviewing GID? Are you actively working to have them removed?

A. APA is pleased that well-qualified psychologists who are also members of APA have been included in the leadership of this aspect of the DSM revision. We are also aware that there are substantive disagreements in the field over the GID diagnosis and over the treatment of gender dysphoria. We call on this group and others working on the new DSM to apply the highest professional standards in reviewing the science and we encourage the careful consideration of all legitimate perspectives.

Q.Why did the American Psychological Association allow Dr. Kenneth Zucker to be part of its task force on gender identity?

A. APA's task force on gender identity was given a very specific charge -- to complete a review of the research literature on gender identity and transgenderism and to make recommendations based on that review. Nominations to the Task Force were widely sought and appointments to the task force, including that of Dr. Zucker, were made through a very thorough review process based on an individual psychologist's research, clinical expertise and experience. As is the case with all APA task forces, the final work product is grounded in the strongest, peer-reviewed science available and undergoes a rigorous review process within the APA governance structure before it can become APA policy. Ultimately, what becomes APA policy must be well-grounded in science not individual opinion.