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 Public.affairs@apa.org 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.

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