Transgenderness is now recognised as a normal variation in the human experience. But it has taken a long time for psychologists to realise this.
For a while cultural baggage affected scientific judgement. But slowly, religious views and other attitudes caused by personal formation were weeded out of the science. Also, for many years psychologists presumed that any variation away from the normal (i.e. statistically most common) human response was wrong and therefore a condition, a syndrome, or a disorder. We transgender people who were the victims of such categorisation bitterly resented it, and in recent years called it “pathologising”, a pathology being any problem with the human body or mind.
However, things changed for the better - eventually. While being gay ceased to be a “disorder” over a quarter of a century ago, our fight took longer: Until it was taken off the books in 2013, transgender people were still categorised as suffering from “Gender Identity Disorder”.
For the record, and because it is important as the last major scientific categorisation of transgenderness, here is an overview of "Gender Identity Disorder". It comprised two main categories:
“Dual Role Transvestism” (the majority condition)
The criteria described for dual-role transvestism were
1. The individual feels a need to wear the clothes of the opposite sex
2. There is no sexual motivation for the crossdressing
3. The individual has no desire for a permanent change to the opposite sex.
No treatment was prescribed for dual-role transvestism, although sometimes it was recommended that the "patient" join a transvestite social club.
“Transsexualism” (the minority condition)
Transsexualism was described as the desire to live and be accepted as a member of the opposite sex, usually but not always accompanied by the wish to make his or her body as congruent as possible with the preferred sex through surgery and hormone treatment. The treatment for transsexualism was to allow surgery and hormone therapy as required.
In 2013, everything changed. ”Gender Identity Disorder” was removed from the diagnostic manuals. Like being gay, today being transgender is no longer deemed to be a disorder. Psychology has finally accepted that being transgender is just a normal variation of humanity.
Nevertheless some controversy remains. The small minority of transgender people who feel they were born in the wrong body still have a listing in the diagnostic manuals. This is “Gender Dysphoria”, which is defined as distress at the incongruity between their physical bodies and the gender with which they identify.
The argument against “Gender Dysphoria” is the familiar one: That it is a pathologisation and that it stigmatizes those whom it labels. The argument in favour is that, without a condition to treat, medical intervention via hormones and surgery cannot be justified.
For us recently liberated dual-role transvestites however, the controversy over “Gender Dysphoria” is not directly relevant, much as we may sympathise from the sidelines. For us, the most important thing is that being transgender itself is no longer seen as a problem. To a modern care professional, being transgender is no longer an issue.
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