In a new report, the American Psychiatric Association (APA) Task Force on Treatment of Gender Identity Disorder calls for specific guidelines to help determine the best course of treatment for transgender patients. The report notes that although the APA introduced the diagnosis of Gender Identity Disorder (GID) over thirty years ago, the organization has yet to recommend treatment or take an official position on the concerns of transgender persons. The task force’s report calls for a variety of measures that would greatly benefit the health of transgender patients:
1. The APA should help identify mental health service providers with expertise in gender discomfort and sex development disorders.
2. The APA should establish a separate method for evaluating the needs of people with sex development disorders.
3. Specific APA treatment guidelines are particularly important because they would likely positively impact the number of psychiatrists willing to help transgender patients.
4. The APA should create workshops for educating mental health care providers about transgender care.
5. The APA’s silence — coupled with its stigmatizing diagnosis of “Gender Identity Disorder” — is a failure to facilitate access to care for transgender people.
6. The transgender community has emerged as a recognizable political group with a claim to civil rights. Therefore, patient care must evolve beyond a mere “ability to conform to majority cultural expectations.”
7. Although research is limited, there is enough consensus to support the development of recommendations for all age groups: children, adolescents, and adults.
Last month, the The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry released similar suggestions for supporting children and adolescents who may be LGBT or gender-nonconforming. LGBT children and adults, like all people, are happier and healthier when their identities are affirmed. Under the APA’s new recommendations, clinicians must translate this information into informed and sensitive counseling and treatment.
– Steven Perlberg