Transgenderism as Mental Illness

I’m sure you guys have all heard the claim that transgender people have “mnetal illnesses” and “need help”. While it’s easy to outright dismiss this claim as ludicrous as I’m sure many of us have, I got to think recently that, however unPC, however much we dislike to hear it (it certainly doesn’t put us in a particularly positive light), there may be a discussion worth having here.

I can practically feel the hate already - and that in itself is part of the problem. I’m merely suggesting that this be a conversation we have so the argument can be explored further and broken down. There seems to be an unhealthy assumption that we have somehow discussed this by simply not discussing it - an assumption of moral, ethical and “feely” belief that we are right, therefore any debate is irrelevant. That just can’t be true.

For example, googling “gay mental illness” and “trans mental illness” give you two dramatically different results. The arguement that being gay is a mental illness has all but died among both the online and mainstream media, while there remains continuous and heated debate on the issue of transgenderism. Johns Hopkins university, back in the 70’s a pioneer or SRS and transgender surgery, have since 180’d and - apparently - come to the conclusion that transgenderism is a mental illness:

Obviously this flies in the face of our beliefs, and I’d say certainly the now widely-accepted view among the leftwing media that transgenderism is here to stay and categorically NOT an illness, but I for one believe there is a worthwhile discussion to be had, if only for the sake of dismantling the argument. We’re not going to change perceptions by simply stating something is the case without proving it to be true, so let’s talk about it.

What are your views on this? Do you believe there is a debate to had here? Any and all thoughts welcome. And let’s not start name-calling or engaging in petty hostile attacks. This should be a forum for discussion, debate and engagement. Cheers.

Well, yes, but those voices has become less frequent and weaker, - I hope.

Up to date science on the topic “TGism” are litterature from the recent and current decade. TGism as mental illness are no longer a topic. For those who claim that TGism are a mental illness, ask what literature they suggest.

No wonder voices that claim such becomes less frequent and weaker. It’s passed.


Morten, I’d like to agree with you but it would help if you could point out some literature that does verify this. Without facts and some studies or research to back it up, we don’t have much to stand on beyond a sense of morality. I don’t think this issue is “passed” at all. In our mind, perhaps, but if we’re here to open up the discussion among wider society - and I think most of us are - we need some actual evidence of our own. Rhetoric, belief and our feelings don’t mean anything to people who oppose our point of view.

I did google but in Norwegian. I did find something in a Norwegian online encyclopedia. An encyclopedia in Norwegian do not have much value for English speaking. That’s the reason why I left the link.

The lecturer for the articles on transpersons are Norway’s most known transperson. This lecturer also are researcher on gender at an university.

I didn’t read the secondary litteratur myself. I just saw the litterature list for different topics about transpersons. Some are in English and some in different Scandinavian language.

Usually it’s good enough to ask what litterature people suggest. Litterature from the 1970’s usually do no longer havve much value. It’s passed.

No matter. You need to be a pretty narrow person if you still believe that transgenderism are a mental illness. It’s in the passed.

Hello again! Rhetoric, belief and their feelings don’t mean anything to our point of view. Ask them what up to date litterature they suggest.

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Hey Captain, I hope we are moving away from this idea of mental illness though I’m sure a lot of people suffer from it. How much is the rest of society to blame for that context? If all kids were brought up to love themselves and accept themselves as they are and granted full freedom to chose to live as they want free from judgement and morality there would no longer be a case for gender and sexual variations being “mental illness”. In my opinion being righteous, judgmental, conformist to old past concepts and having that limit your life is the real mental illness in our society. Additionally the war industry, over production, over population, poverty, environmental problems, excessive attachment to material goods and money and so on are our real mental illnesses. Not same sex relations and gender non conformity.

I accidently came over recent research on the topic Transgenderism (or transsexualism) on a Norwegian site. I did translate the article in google translate. In addition there is a fact box to the article. Let’s try post the article. I hope it makes sense for English speakers. Note especially the paragrah “What’s the reason for the diagnosis Transsexualism?”

For those who’s interested is no problem click the link and copy paste the fact box and translate in google. The fact box is the the one with grey background.

The diagnosis of transsexualism
The diagnosis of Transsexualism is one of many different issues within gender identity-themes (KIT), and is the most famous diagnosis.

Rikshospitalet in Oslo land function for the diagnosis of Transsexualism. This means that only doctors and psychologists at the hospital who can diagnose and provide hormone therapy and surgery. People who receive this diagnosis at the hospital, is often described as “born in the wrong body” and they change sex. The diagnosis of Transsexualism is a matter of gender identity and not a question of sexuality. This is in contrast to lesbians, gays and bisexuals, as defined by their sexual identity.

The issues within gender identity themes can be very complicated, and it requires extensive knowledge of making the correct diagnosis. If they believe that someone has problems with their gender identity, it might be good to take it up with a psychologist with sexological knowledge and have experience with gender identity-themes. Harry Benjamin resource (HBRS) may refer to doctors and psychologists who have such knowledge.

It is a fact that in Norway are all in the group of patients in a period. They get help from public healthcare for the diagnosis of Transsexualism. The people who receive help at the hospital, has from childhood and puberty an existential need to get help so they can live as the gender they are psychologically, boy or girl.
It is not about to challenge gender model. Most people in our society experience being man or woman right. So it is for patients at the hospital. They are men and women - not transsexuals, shemales or transsexuals. All also get a new Social Security number that equates them legally as man or woman with all the other men and women in Norway. Although it is about gender identity, then all belonging to the group, also a sexual orientation. They are like the general population heterosexuals, gays, lesbians and bisexuals.

Patients who are diagnosed are becoming younger and ever more young people to study. The average age is currently 20 years and 15 to 20 patients under 16 years of investigation and treatment each year. There are signs both on the treatment of young people have improved, and that the opportunity to get help and treatment has become known among a growing number of people and clinicians.

Although the medical services have improved since the first operation was carried out at the hospital in 1963, and the knowledge of the diagnosis and treatment is more available to most people, it remains a very long way to go in terms of social acceptance. Daily experiencing some men and women who are in treatment or finished operated, being socially ignored, met with prejudices, ridiculed and described as anything but a sex. It is a very serious problem that politicians and society in general must take seriously and do something.

What is the reason for the diagnosis of Transsexualism?
Recent research shows that gender identity in the brain is determined in the embryonic stage, and that hormone levels is one of the factors that determine. Large amounts testosterone developing brain in a male direction, while larger amounts of estrogen developing brain in a female direction.
The research shows that the genitals are being developed in the first months of pregnancy, while gender identity is developed in the brain in the last half of pregnancy and after birth. This means that certain factors may affect how genitalia and gender identity develops - and that they can evolve in different directions because they are not developed simultaneously and thus are independent of each other. If this is correct, we can expect to see female structures in a man’s brain and male structures in a woman’s brain. That is exactly what is the case in the brains of men and women who have been diagnosed F.64.0, trans sexualism.

Treatment in Norway
The treatment of people who are diagnosed with transsexualism in Norway, consisting of psychological assessment, hormone treatment and gender corrective surgery. In total about 500 people diagnosed operated at the hospital since 1963. In Norway, one must be between twelve and fifteen years to possibly could begin at puberty delaying treatment and 16 years to start on hormones. For surgery is the age limit of 18 years.

In Norway there is no law that gives the right to gender corrective treatment. The treatment is given on medical grounds. The people in this group need to consult their general practitioner, who in turn will refer you to a psychologist or psychiatrist in secondary care. Psychiatrist or psychologist should refer the client on to the section for transsexualism at Rikshospitalet.

If the multidisciplinary team at the hospital confirmed the diagnosis in the absence of contraindications (meaning that there are risks associated with the treatment method), the patient is referred to the hormone specialist at the National Hospital for internal medical examination. Then the patient can take with hormone therapy. It is expected that the patient during hormone treatment is undergoing a “reality experience”, meaning that the patient must live openly with their psychological gender, that is what he or she wants to help.

After about two years of hormone treatment, the patient may undergo surgery. For men (born girl’s body) involves mastectomy (removal of the breast) and removal of the uterus and ovaries (ovaries). Later constructed a penis. There are several techniques, but none work hundred percent satisfactory.

For women (born boy body) constructed a vagina where the penis skin is used as interior lining. It created the clitoris of the glans penis with nerves intact, and it means that the person can have a normal sex life after surgery. Those who wish, can get implants in her breasts. In Norway takes the gender corrective process minimum of three to five years from the patient comes to the hospital.

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“Transgender people are just mentally ill.” or “Being trans is a just mental disorder.” or “Trans-people are just not wired right.” And my all-time favourite!

“If I said I was the Sydney Harbour Bridge they would lock me up for being crazy, but if like you I was born a man and said I was a woman they would agree with me and help me to disfigure my body just like you have.”

If only I had a dollar for each time I have I read or heard some variation of these claims! As recently as this year (2017) a poll showed that 21% of Americans believe that being transgender is a mental illness. Given our recent debate on marriage equity, I suspect a significant higher result would be the outcome of such a poll in my own country, Australia.

On the internet there are dedicated online comments sections to promote the organised transphobia of Paul McHugh, Walt Heyer, Michelle Cretella, and numerous other (including Australian) hate organisations camouflaged as family orientated and/or Christian organisations. Typically the hatred towards trans-people is supported the labelling of anyone with a transgender identity as having a “mental disorder”.

Typically, this is argued with the following statement: “Being transgender is listed in the DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) and so it is a mental disorder. So, a person whose gender identity is at odds with their birth sex should receive psychological therapy focusing on aligning their self-perceived gender with their body. Giving them medical treatment to adjust their body to their gender identity just reinforces their perception of themselves as being born in the wrong body.” It’s a simple and appealing line of reasoning.

And it’s also completely wrong.

Those making this argument seek to apply the expertise of psychology and psychiatry – and yet they wholly disregard expert consensus in those fields advocating for the treatment of gender dysphoria. The American Psychiatric Association, (publisher of the DSM), stated that “Overall, the evidence suggests that sex reassignment is associated with an improved sense of well-being in the majority of cases”. There is significant and long-standing medical and psychiatric literature existing that demonstrates clear benefits of medical and surgical interventions to assist transgender individuals seeking transition.

Trans-haters ignore the recent body of work done in understanding what transgender is and use mental illness arguments to dismiss and invalidate the real experiences and needs of trans-people. We know that their arguments are not based on a useful or accurate understandings of mental health conditions and their treatment. So such comments are nothing more than a straightforward use of mental health stigma as a weapon to against transgender people and their right to exist. Sadly, not only does this fail to address our health in a helpful way – such anti-trans rhetoric makes our lives worse as it justifies the discrimination, harassment, isolation and violence perpetrated against transgender people.

By all means please educate yourself, learn about transgender and transgender identities, and look at the science behind our treatment. After educating yourself, if you find you doubt the science behind the reality of our existence, then you should also question if dating a transwoman is right for you. The reason I say this is because at some point someone, somewhere, probably publicly and very loudly, is going to question the validity of your relationship with such a comment. Your trans-girlfriend is going to want your support and agreeing with the trans-hater is not going to entice her to give you her heart and undying love!

So, the lesson is become educated and learn how to advocate for transgender people. You will find you will have more fun and keep yourself and your date safe.

Hugz Emily :slight_smile:

Dr. Jordan B. Peterson summarizes it very well:

“Not all transsexuals have mental illness, but many people with mental illness are going to be confused about their identity.”

I would like to first point out you’re asking the wrong question. The real question is even if it is a mental illness is there anything that can be done to change it, and the short answer is no.

For it being a mental illness the short answer is yes being trans by pure definition of the word mental illness is a mental illness, but let me finish explaining before you rip my head off.

“A mental disorder, also called a mental illness[2] or psychiatric disorder, is a behavioral or mental pattern that causes significant distress or impairment of personal functioning.[3] Such features may be persistent, relapsing and remitting, or occur as a single episode”

The entire reason why being gay, and being trans were removed from DSM-5 had almost nothing to do with scientific evidence and everything to do with activism.

Now for the reason question what purpose does it serve to actually call it a mental illness even in a purely clinical sense. Most of the research we have on sexual orientation, and gender identity start in utero based in the hormones the fetus is exposed to. These physically change the brain structure of the person permanently. Environent can have an effect, but for the most part the gender of your brain much like the sex of your body is decided long before you understand it on a personal level.

So then the question becomes what real good does it do calling it a mental illness if our current technology does not allow us to change these brain structure because we can’t. No amount of medicine or therapy has shown to change these brain patterns significantly. There are two conflicting studies about pausing gender hormones in teens. That showed if given time people choose their born sex as their gender, but there is a directly conflicting study that showed the same thing. Also I would be willing to wager this would only work for trans people on the edge of the gender range. If they were more one or the other I see it much more likely they will be swayed by their natural pre disposition.

So until we can actually change physiological brain structures it doesn’t really matter if it is a mental illness there is nothing we can do to change it besides trying to mitigate the negative emotional symptoms and letting them live their lives how their choose it.

And even if we did have the technology to change said brain patterns would it even be morally acceptable to do so?

I think the best moral solution is proper understanding of in utero conditions, and then properly regulating them so we don’t have the mortal conundrum of changing someone’s brains after the fact, and even that’s likely to cause major issues. That’s borderline gene modification.

The real reason we don’t classify trans as a mental illness is because most people don’t have the time, patients, care, or intelligence to actually sit down and understand this issue on a complex level. It’s the same reason we have decided to keep the scientific community away from explaining that races are genetically different even though the differences are something we don’t really understand on a complex level. After all if they were not different those analyze your DNA to find where your ancestors came from wouldn’t work. It’s just dangerous to give people ammunition for their own hate. I do wish we could live in a world where calling a spade a spade didn’t mean we could then say all spades are equal by association.

Side note I would like to point out Emily is only half right about GRS. The success rate for happiness is much higher on MTF vs FTM for very obvious reasons. Much easier to put a hole in a body then to make a complex organ. As well those studies only apply if the person has been significantly studied to have major body dysmorphic disorder. A significant portion of trans people are able to live reasonablely well without GRS and just hormonally, and socially transitioning. I think we should be very very careful with GRS. It should be our last line of defense for emotional treatment. Instead of a majority encouraged act in the trans community. Also it can give the very dangerous idea to people that they will be the other gender. I believe it’s morally wrong to get GRS and then lie you’re CS. It’s something that happens in the community that’s very hush hush.

All in all the trans community has some very toxic, and negative aspects especially involving those who decide to go outside the normal. Much like all communities they use shame. Prime example is non surgery, and MTF that prefer to top are sometimes called not real trans just gay men using trans status to sleep with men.