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American Psychiatric Association officially supports equality in transgender health

August 17, 2012

Yesterday, the American Psychiatric Association (APA) issued official positions supporting access to care and non-discrimination for transgender and gender variant individuals. The Task Force applauds this important statement of position, which includes a statement against discrimination in a variety of settings, including health care, employment, housing, public accommodation, education and licensing.

This important announcement for transgender health care equality comes as the American Psychiatric Association is undergoing the process of creating the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistic Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) – the standard classification of mental health disorders. Efforts have been under way for years to reform diagnostic categories for gender dysphoria to be more accurate and less stigmatizing. The most recent proposed draft of the DSM 5 takes significant steps in this direction, including by eliminating the misleading term “Gender Identity Disorder.” In combination with the DSM reforms, the APA’s position statements are a positive step in the right direction for full inclusion and access for transgender people in health care and other areas of life.

The APA’s official positions include:

Access to Care for Transgender and Gender Variant Individuals

The American Psychiatric Association:

  1. Recognizes that appropriately evaluated transgender and gender variant individuals can benefit greatly from medical and surgical gender transition treatments.
  2. Advocates for removal of barriers to care and supports both public and private health insurance coverage for gender transition treatment.
  3. Opposes categorical exclusions of coverage for such medically necessary treatment when prescribed by a physician.

Discrimination against Transgender and Gender Variant Individuals

The American Psychiatric Association:

  1. Supports laws that protect the civil rights of transgender and gender variant individuals.
  2. Urges the repeal of laws and policies that discriminate against transgender and gender variant people.
  3. Opposes all public and private discrimination against transgender and gender variant individuals in such areas as health care, employment, housing, public accommodation, education and licensing.
  4. Declares that no burden of proof of such judgment, capacity or reliability shall be placed upon these individuals greater than that imposed on any other persons.

The American Psychiatric Association joins numerous other professional medical associations supporting the full range of care for transgender people in all health settings, including the American Medical Association, American Psychological Association, American Academy of Family Physicians, American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, National Association of Social Workers, Endrocine Society and the World Professional Association for Transgender Health.

At the Task Force, we recognize that these policy statements support our advocacy in tangible ways. Policymakers often reference reputable institutions like the American Psychiatric Association when seeking mainstream validation of our work, and the American Psychiatric Association’s official position in support of full health care access free from discrimination for transgender people helps secure government policies to protect LGBT people from discrimination in health care.

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