Thursday, 20 January 2011 00:37

Exploring Gender: The Definition of Disorder

Written by  Cael

Looking back on my article from last week, I wanted to look back on Gender Identity Disorder (GID). First, I don’t think it is right to call it a disorder. The general connotation of disorder is something negative, something inherently wrong. Having a different gender identity is not wrong, so I have to say that I hate that it is called a disorder.

According to the Oxford English Dictionary (OED), a disorder is “a disturbance of the bodily (or mental) functions; an ailment, disease. (Usually a weaker term than disease and not implying structural change.” In other words, there is something wrong, and it isn’t quite a disease, though it is close, the difference being an absence of “structural change.” The OED is the end all be all when it comes to the definition of a word, including its origins, where it has been used with that meaning, generally it is academia’s dictionary. So when we follow this definition, I again assert that I do not like the word disorder. There is nothing wrong with me; I just feel differently about myself than do most people.

So that’s how I feel about the word. How about the fact that it is included in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM)? Again, there is that word. So would you consider gender identity issues within the realm of mental disorders? Should gender identity be along the same lines as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder? I do not think so. There is no imbalance in brain chemistry which needs to be corrected. There is no medicine to take to make it all better. It is an inherent part of a person, something which cannot necessarily be changed.

The fact that gender identity is included in the DSM puts it up for mockery, for hatred. People with mental problems, those even as well understood as depression, are looked down upon in society. They are abnormal, can’t be trusted because something is wrong with them. Including gender identity in the DSM allows it to be associated with these popular feelings. I have friends whose families refuse to let them be treated for even depression for fear of the connotations associated with admitting to having a mental problem, which is wrong but, nevertheless, true.

Already different gender identities are stigmatized in society because they are different, because they are not understood, so this one classification only stands to further that stigma. The fact is that gender identity is not understood. There is little research, and debate ranges about how gender identity issues come about. There needs to be more research, and gender identity must be understood better before it can be classified as anything within the medical community, especially when that classification can further stigmatize those who are having to deal with other stigmas on a day to day basis.

Anyway, that is my little rant for this week. And I know it might be a little redundant. I got my wisdom teeth out yesterday, so I’m a bit off. So sorry for the perhaps strange grammar, ect.