Intersex community angry at 'disorder' classification
Gender diverse activists have been left upset and angered by a decision by the World Professional Association of Transgender Health (WPATH) to include intersex as a mental health disorder in the latest version of its internationally accepted Standards of Care and Ethical Guidelines (SOC).
At its conference in Atlanta, USA on September 25, WPATH released the seventh edition of its SOC, which articulate a professional consensus about the psychiatric, psychological, medical, and surgical management of gender identity disorders.
The guidelines also aim to help professionals understand the parameters within which they may offer assistance to those with such conditions.
Having first been published in 1979, with previous revisions occurred in 1980, 1981, 1990, 1998 and 2001, WPATH claim its latest edition recognises much more explicitly “that gender nonconformity in and of itself is not a disorder”.
Christine Burns, SOC international advisory committee member, said the newly released guidelines will promote a much better outcome for transgender people.
“The previous versions of the SOC were always perceived to be about the things that a trans person must do to satisfy clinicians, this version is much more clearly about every aspect of what clinicians ought to do in order to properly serve their clients.
“That is a truly radical reversal … one that serves both parties very well,” Burns said.
However, the guidelines have upset the intersex community in Australia as WPATH has decided to place intersex under the classification of ‘Disorders of Sex Development’.
Gina Wilson, president of Organisation Intersex International Australia (OII), said WPATH’s decision is “an act of breathtaking hypocrisy”, particularly as the intersex community was not consulted.
“WPATH would not formulate a Standards of Care for trans people without considerable trans inclusion and widespread trans consultation.
“That WPATH is prepared to do what they have done to intersex people shows the complete misunderstanding that trans professionals have in respect of intersex and their disregard for both our rights and for our wellbeing,” Wilson said.
WPATH is a international multidisciplinary professional organisation devoted to the understanding and treatment of gender identity disorders.
It was founded by the German-born American physician Harry Benjamin, who was one of the first physicians known to have worked with transgender people.