Letters of concern to the APA on the DSM-V

Jane Costello's letter of resignation from the DSM-V Child and Adolescent Disorders workgroup.
Dr Jane Costello’s letter of resignation from the APA’s Child and Adolescent Disorders work group

IINTERSEX people who reject the sex assigned to them at birth by doctors who are merely guessing at what their actual sex may be before performing irreversible sterilisation, cosmetic genital surgery and prescribing lifelong hormone treatment are often thrown to the wolves when they reject that assignment later.

Many intersex people are forced to endure diagnosis as mentally ill in order to access hormone treatment and urogenital correction surgery in order to live as their actual sex. Those diagnoses involve being labelled as having Gender Identity Disorder (GID) or Gender Identity Disorder, not otherwise specified (GID-NOS), via references in the American Psychiatric Association’s (APA) Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, IV (DSM-IV).

In other words, we have been labelled as having a mental illness for having pointed out mistakes that doctors made at our birth and for then asking that those mistakes be rectified.

Letter to APA Board of Trustees regarding the DSM-V, by Allen Frances and Robert Spitzer.
Allen Frances, MD, and Robert Spitzer, MD, co-authored this letter to the APA Board of Directors on 6th July, expressing their concerns about the DSM-V

Further, some intersex people are subjected to reparative therapies of the kind practised by Dr Kenneth Zucker, which are intended to force them not to behave as they sex they actually are.

Beyond that, most intersex people who reject the sex they were assigned at birth are subjected by their families, friends and strangers to the usual range of  abusive, often violent treatment meted out to those who dare to be themselves.

Several prominent members of the APA have been expressing their concerns via publicly-available letters.

Editorial comment

We wish to see GID and GID-NOS removed from the DSM-V altogether. Intersex does not belong in a handbook of classifications of mental illness. Intersex is not a mental disorder.

Read the full OII Australia / OII Aotearoa/NZ submission on the draft DSM-5, June 2012.

Allen Frances, MD: A Warning Sign on the Road to DSM‐5 - Beware of its Unintended Consequences  Dr Allen Frances was head of the DSM-IV Taskforce. Here is a letter he wrote to express his concerns early in the history of the DSM-V

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