Only a few years ago did the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) remove “gender identity disorder” and relabel it as “gender dysphoria,” stripping it of its former status of a disorder. But how effective, and how much of a step forward, was this really for trans and non-binary individuals? Especially considering that homosexuality used to be listed in the document as well, as recently as 1973?
Dysphoria, the opposite of euphoria, is defined by Merriam-Webster as “a state of feeling unwell or unhappy.” But this doesn’t quite explain the real feeling that a trans* individual might feel prior to coming out, or even prior to accepting that they themselves are trans*.
The simple fact that transgender is still listed under this database as a problem in a person’s life is debilitating. It implies that, in order to be a trans* person, one must be diagnosed with something. Oftentimes, this translates into something even more problematic: health care won’t cover procedures or medication to allow a trans* person to present themselves how they wish until that person is diagnosed.
Think about it: what if you had to be diagnosed with a medical condition in order to be the person you want to be? You’re not trusted enough to know that you’re not what you were assigned at birth. You have to have a trained professional to tell you that there’s something fundamentally abnormal about you. Only until then will you receive the help you desire or need to live out your life. Until then, you’re written off as not knowing yourself well enough.
Obviously, many trans and non-binary people elect not to have a reassignment surgery. Reasons include that they don’t have the resources for it or even that they simply don’t want it. Contrary to what is sometimes thought, trans* individuals are still men, or women, or whatever gender or non-gender they identify as, whether their bodies match the typical image of what they should look like or not.
The DSM, however, is still placing restrictions on people’s lives that are outdated and unnecessary. These restrictions were removed for gay, lesbian and bisexual individuals–why aren’t they removed for the trans* community yet?