Australia’s peak body for intersex people has labelled revisions to the American Psychiatric Association’s diagnostic manual as a backwards step in the fight for intersex rights.
In re-drafting the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, which is also used as a standard diagnostic tool in Australia, the APA has removed references to ‘gender identity disorders’, and ‘gender identity disorder not otherwise specified’, the term used to ‘diagnose’ intersex people who have rejected the sex they were assigned at birth.
Instead doctors will be encouraged to refer to trans issues as ‘gender incongruence’, a term considered to be less stigmatising.
The revisions have had the opposite effects for the intersex community though, as doctors take up the term ‘disorder of sex development’.
“They’ve said gender identity disorder is unacceptable because it pathologises the diagnosed, but they’re happy to call intersex ‘disordered. It’s getting worse and their pathologising us even more,” Organisation International de Intersex Australia representative Gina Wilson said.
“To be referred to as ‘disordered’ is grossly insulting, marginalising and pathologising. It makes me feel like I am unacceptable and need to be erased.
“There has always been a problem around what happens to a person who rejects their birth assignment. They are considered to have a mental illness.
“The assumption is that the birth assignment must be right. The doctor is never at fault, it’s the poor intersex person who is wrong, who then gets carted off to a psychiatrist to try and ‘fix’ us.
“We know that we’ve got different anatomy, and it can be difficult to determine sex when we’re born, but for God’s sake, don’t go on to say that we’re mentally ill.”

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