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Journalists such as Rachel Maddow are singing the praises of Dr. Robert Spitzer for retracting his claims about the effectiveness of "reparative" psychotherapies for gays. Maddow called it "step one in what we're now going to see as a real change, a real reckoning, in antigay politics."

But what about Spitzer's legacy of trans pathologization?


Transwoman and Ph.D psychologist Kelley Winters reports:

"Rachel Maddow and other journalists turned a blind eye to Dr. Spitzer's failure to retract a lifetime of trans psychopathologization, stereotyping gender identities and expression that differ from assigned birth roles as mental disease....

"Shifting stigma from one oppressed class to a more oppressed class is not real change.

"Robert Spitzer played a central role in the declassification of same-sex orientation as a mental illness in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) between 1973 and 1987... However, while depathologizing same-sex orientation, Dr. Spitzer simultaneously directed a massive expansion of trans-pathology diagnoses in the DSM...

"We too have been injured by Robert Spitzer's role in perpetuating defamatory stereotypes of mental "dysfunction" and deviance. Trans people continue to lose our jobs, homes, children, families, dignity and civil justice because of these stereotypes and continue to face predatory gender conversion psychotherapies.

"Trans communities have waited more than two decades for a retraction or an apology from Dr. Spitzer. and we are still waiting."

Originally posted to atana on Thu Apr 26, 2012 at 01:26 PM PDT.

Also republished by TransAction.

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Comment Preferences

  •  It's amazing that the APA still refers... (6+ / 0-)

    to anything related to transgenderism and even cross dressing as "gender dimorphism."

    From what I've experienced having to live a hidden life as someone you aren't simply forces people into depression, unhappiness, and sadly some end their own lives because of this.  

    The real sickness is telling people they are mentally ill because the don't identify with the gender they were born into, or even that they can't wear clothing traditionally worn by the opposite sex. partner is a psychologist and neuroscientist.  

    She knows that her profession has done great harm to people in many cases and she does not agree with these labels.  Thankfully, she is not alone.  One day this will change.

    •  Young women in psychiatry now (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Horace Boothroyd III, IndieGuy

      are in a different universe of tolerance from the one I spent my life in. There were no women psychiatrists when I first tried to transition in the '70s. You were confronted with guys who said things like "I can tell who is really a woman by whether she turns me on". Really. A male MD psychiatrist said that on the phone while I was in his office, trying to get hormones. In my childhood, they use electroshock on us.

      But the young women in psychiatry now don't know that history. Medical schools don't teach the history of medical human rights abuses, particularly not those that are still being practiced by guys at the top of the profession -- people like Ken Zucker, for example, who has made a career of practicing "reparatist" therapy (i.e. torture) on "feminine" boys, and who is rewarded for it by being give top committees on the DSM, which he then stuffs with like-minded torturers. He and his ilk are responsible for the huge expansion of pathologization of "paraphilias" in the new edition of DSM.

      This is happening today. Many more people will suffer and die because of it. But most of the people in the field know nothing about it; it's not on their radar.

      Women are the only oppressed group not allowed to name their oppressors.

      by atana on Thu Apr 26, 2012 at 02:32:39 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  My partner knows this terrible history... (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        atana, Horace Boothroyd III, IndieGuy

        and she teaches it in her courses.  I will have her read your diary.  Im sorry for what happened to you.

        •  It's a very old history (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Horace Boothroyd III

          one that reaches back into the Eugenics movement and forced sterilizations of "feebleminded" people -- which meant poor people of ethnicities the doctors didn't like... who in those days were mostly Eastern and Southern Europeans.

          After WWII the Eugenicists went underground, but the Homophobes ascended. Now they are being driven back, but transgender people are their "line in the sand" -- especially "feminine boys". If "feminine boys" are allowed to transition, they seem to fear, the universe will shatter. Besides, parents have the right to beat their children into gender conformity, and Drs Zucker, Blanchard et al. can help them do it.

          For some reason the hierarchy of the American Psychiatric Association still shares this transphobic terror, and supports these child abusers, giving them power. This fact about the APA should be widely publicized.

          Women are the only oppressed group not allowed to name their oppressors.

          by atana on Thu Apr 26, 2012 at 03:07:53 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  It's long past due (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    dirkster42, rserven

    that the transgender community be removed from the APA's manual  considered as victims of a mental dysfunction. Some of the comments made here today only make that more clear than ever. As a gay man, I spent the first 23 years of my life believing there was something wrong with me. The damage that did has never ended. I do not believe that trans people should have to wait one more day to have this stigma removed from their lives and I find it outrageous that people who will never have to suffer this injustice weigh in on this issue coldly with nothing to lose themselves and deem trans people "abnormal" whatever that might mean. Thanks for the diary, atana.

    There is a critical difference between feeling discriminated against because you're disagreed with and being discriminated against because of who you are.

    by EdSF on Fri Apr 27, 2012 at 03:16:53 PM PDT

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