Op-ed: Fitting in
It's nice to be reminded that just because you don't fit a certain paradigm doesn't mean that you don't fit at all.
In a recent story posted on The Atlantic's website, the author discusses the recent changes and publication of the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, or DSM-5. This is the same manual that did not fully remove homosexuality as a psychological illness or condition until 1987. The author, Amelia Rachel Hokule’a Borofsky, demonstrates that the same desire amongst gays and lesbians to have the DSM changed is now being echoed by people who identify with the transgender spectrum, specifically around the diagnosis of gender identity disorder:
"It is hard not to see the parallels between the diagnosis of homosexuality and the latest heat around gender identity disorder (GID). At the annual APA meeting in San Francisco in 2009, protesters once again gathered to lobby against continued inclusion of this diagnosis in the DSM-5. During the comment period, GID received more comments than any other diagnosis up for discussion. It's worth reading the entire diagnosis, but the last version of the manual, the DSM-IV (TR), identifies the disorder as "a strong persistent cross-gender identification ... [and] a repeatedly stated desire to be, or insistence that he or she is, the other sex." Basically, the diagnosis is "transgendered."
One theme that Borofsky mentions in her article is how the DSM-5 is essentially a distillation of Western ideology around gender and sexuality. She goes on to mention that many other cultures don't ascribe to binary gender norms:
Native activist and scholar Will Roscoe found documentation of third and even fourth genders in more than 150 North American tribes. In Samoa, the term fa'afafine refers to a biological man who lives as a woman. Samoans appreciate fa'afafine for their hard work and dedication to family, and for the large part offer them social acceptance.
Perhaps it is Western society that needs to have its head examined more closely and not the people it wishes to diagnose as "ill" simply for being who they are.