Transness.org

Exploring Gender Identity

Gender Incongruency

on April 10, 2012

Gender Incongruency may be unfamiliar to some of our readers so I will take the next two Transitions Blogs to explain it further.  I will first give the simple straight-forward definition of it and then in the next part explain why it is the preferred term now verses Gender Identity Disorder.

Incongruous or Incongruent:

— adj

1. incompatible with (what is suitable); inappropriate

2. containing disparate or discordant elements or parts (Dictionary.com)

Thus applied to gender it means the individual feels certain parts (gender and/or sex) are incompatible, inappropriate, disparate, or discordant.  The definition of transgender varies a little from transsexual so I will simply say that transgender is an umbrella term that covers all gender non-conforming identities, while transsexual is more specific to a feeling of marked incongruity requiring both hormone therapy and sexual reassignment surgery.  The diagnosis of gender incongruency would apply to all transsexuals, and some but not all transgender individuals.

Treatment is the way I discern the difference between transgender and transsexual.  Many transgender individuals need no treatment at all other than the acknowledgement of their gender expression and role.  Sexual orientation or sexual pleasure type are separate issues and are not discussed here.  The following definitions from the American Psychiatric Association, Concerned Professionals, and The Yogyakarta Principles are offered in regards to Transsexualism mainly, but also pertain to Transgender, esp The Yogyakarta Principles.

First let us consider in the United States, the American Psychiatric Association permits a diagnosis of gender identity disorder if the four diagnostic criteria in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 4thEdition, Text-Revised (DSM-IV-TR) are met. (There is a proposal to change this GID diagnosis term to Gender Incongruence in the new DSM-V, of which I will discuss further in the next blog)

The criteria are:

  • Long-standing and strong identification with another gender
  • Long-standing disquiet about the sex assigned or a sense of incongruity in the gender-assigned role of that sex
  • Significant clinical discomfort or impairment at work, social situations, or other important life areas.
  • The diagnosis is not made if the individual also has physical intersex characteristics.

If the four criteria are met under the DSM-IV-TR, a diagnosis is made under ICD-9 code 302.85.   The International Classification of Diseases (ICD-10) list three diagnostic criteria:

Transsexualism (F64.0) has three criteria:

  1. The desire to live and be accepted as a member of the opposite sex, usually accompanied by the wish to make his or her body as congruent as possible with the preferred sex through surgery and hormone treatment
  2. The transsexual identity has been present persistently for at least two years
  3. The disorder is not a symptom of another mental disorder or a chromosomal abnormality (Intersex).

Mental health and medical professionals, clinicians, researchers, and scholars are concerned about psychiatric nomenclature and diagnostic criteria for gender-variant, gender-nonconforming, transgender, and transsexual people in the Fifth Edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), and call themselves Professionals Concerned About Gender Diagnoses in the DSM. Below are their suggestions for the Gender Incongruence (in adults) diagnosis in the DSM V.

A. A distressing sense of incongruence between persistent experienced or expressed gender and current physical sex characteristics or ascribed gender role in adults, as manifested by at least one of the following indicators for duration of at least 3 months. Incongruence, for this purpose, does not mean gender expression that is nonconforming to social stereotypes of ascribed gender role or natal sex.

1. A distress or discomfort with living in the present gender or being perceived by others as the present gender, which is distinct from the experiences of discrimination or the societal expectations associated with that gender.

2. A distress or discomfort caused by deprivation of gender expression congruent with persistent experienced gender. Experienced gender may include alternative gender identities beyond binary stereotypes.

3. A distress or discomfort with one’s current primary or secondary sex characteristics that are incongruent with persistent experienced gender.

4. A distress or discomfort caused by deprivation of primary or secondary sex characteristics that are congruent with persistent experienced gender.

B. Distress or discomfort is clinically significant or causes impairment in social, occupational or other important areas of functioning, and is not due to external prejudice or discrimination. (Professionals Concerned with Gender Diagnoses in the DSM, 2010)

The Yogyakarta Principles on the Application of International Human Rights Law in relation to Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity is a set of principles relating to sexual orientation and gender identity, intended to apply international human rights law standards to address the abuse of the human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people, and issues of intersexuality.

“The Principle 3 of The Yogyakarta Principles on The Application of International Human Rights Law in Relation to Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity states that “A person of diverse sexual orientation and gender identities shall enjoy legal capacity in all aspects of life. Each person’s self-defined sexual orientation and gender identity is integral to their personality and is one of the most basic aspects of self-determination, dignity and freedom” and the Principle 18 of this states that “Notwithstanding any classifications to the contrary, a person’s sexual orientation and gender identity are not, in and of themselves, medical condition and are not to be treated, cured or suppressed.” According to these Principles, any gender identity of a transsexual or transgendered person is neither “disorder” nor mental illness, thus the diagnosis “gender identity disorder” can be contradictory and irreverent. As well, The Activist’s Guide of the Yogyakarta Principles in Action states that “It is important to note that while “sexual orientation” has been declassified as a mental illness in many countries, “gender identity or gender identity disorder” often remains under consideration.” (Wikipedia.com, 2012)

To read the entire publication “An Activist’s Guide to The Yogyakarta Principles” please click here, although be warned it is quite lengthy.  More on Gender Incongruence in Part 2, pleasant reading till then.

🙂 Sequoia Elisabeth

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