A new editorial in the British Journal of Psychology looks at the current state of psychiatric diagnoses – and the limitations of those diagnoses – for transgender and gender-diverse (TGD) patients. It also lays out a vision for a future where alternative psychiatric care frameworks affirm and reduce stigma against TGD patients. Alex Keuroghlian, MD, MPH, Director of Education and Training Programs at The Fenway Institute, co-authored this editorial along with Jacob Perlson, Research Intern at The Fenway Institute and MD/MPH Candidate at Dartmouth Medical School and the Harvard School of Public Health, and Oakland Walters, MD, Department of Psychiatry at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center.
The authors explain that psychiatric providers have a duty to reject dangerous practices such as gender identity conversion, affirm gender diversity as a normal aspect of human expression, and to do their part to end the perpetuating of stigma towards TGD people by the psychiatric field.
“While the change from a diagnosis of ‘gender identity disorder’ to one of ‘gender dysphoria’ in DSM-5 represented psychiatry’s increasingly affirming stance towards TGD populations, complete depathologisation – uncoupling gender diversity from the stigma of diagnostic classification and clinical practice suggesting illness or disorder – remains a necessary and worthy goal for our field to work towards,” the authors state.
A critical step towards improving psychiatric care for TGD patients is training clinicians to validate gender diverse identities without an assumption of pathology.
“In this article, we propose a more affirming approach to psychiatric care that reduces stigma by moving beyond ascribing diagnoses to transgender and gender-diverse identities, or falsely assuming that transgender and gender-diverse experience involves distress or pathology,” said Alex Keuroghlian, MD, MPH, Director of Education and Training Programs at The Fenway Institute.
Read the full editorial here.