History of Gender Identity and Gender Expression in Central PA
In the United States, many more people know about the American Psychiatric Associations inclusion than removal of homosexuality from its Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), with homosexuality in the first edition then removed by the time of the second edition in 1973. Fewer people know about the American Psychiatric Association’s dealings with gender identity and gender expression.
Unlike homosexuality, gender identity was never mentioned in the first two editions of DSM. In 1980 with the publication of the third edition, the diagnosis “transsexualism” was included. The term Transsexualism and what it meant was laid out by Dr. Harry Benjamin in his work The Transsexual Phenomenon, 1966. Dr. Benjamin received funding from the Erickson Educational Foundation and Reed Erickson was one of his patients. He advocated the use of hormonal treatments if the person desired it as part of their gender transition. The medical world was becoming increasingly interested in gender identity and how to interact with individuals pursuing gender transition.
Due to connotations surrounding the phrasing and methods surrounding transsexualism, it was revised in each of the subsequent editions of the DSM. In the fourth edition, 1994, it was replaced with gender identity disorder and then in the most recent DSM it was changed to gender dysphoria. From the very beginning, the American Psychiatric Association’s dealings with gender identity met with push back from those who saw its work as harmful in similar ways to the inclusion of homosexuality in the first edition. However, some saw the diagnoses that occur as beneficial and that it is only meant for a small number of transgender peoples. A gender identity disorder diagnosis, before its replacement by gender dysphoria, was necessary in many cases when it came to legally changing names, gender on government identification, and seeking medical treatments.
The medical world's connection with gender identity and the transgender community is a complicated one. The work funded by Erickson and laid out within the DSM was controversial at the time and still is. Nevertheless, it started the formalization and acceptance among the medical community of working with those seeking a medical path during their gender transition.