Sunday, July 25, 2010

System Failure

- by Stacey Prince

Several clients in my practice who are transgender struggle with depression, anxiety, PTSD, and in some cases suicidality. I believe that their transgender identity plays a large role in the difficulties they experience, but I say this not because I thnk being transgender is a disorder. In fact, as discussed in an earlier blog article (Transcending Diagnosis, March 2010) I am highly in favor of revisions of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM) so that transgender is no longer categorized as a "disorder," and so that people who fully transition can be diagnosis free. I believe what is ailing these clients is not their transgender identity, per se, but a system around them that refuses to recognize the validity of their experience, harasses them for being different, and denies them the services and procedures that would set them free.

For many transgender individuals, the problems start at home. For example, some parents continue to use their child’s birth name and gender pronouns rather than those consistent with their transitioned identity. Other parents who have the financial means refuse to help with sex reassignment surgery (SRS) which costs upwards of $25,000 and is explicitly excluded from the list of covered services by most health insurance plans. Other transgender individuals are fortunate enough to have supportive and understanding family members who help them access care, advocate for them, and explain gender dysphoria and transgender identity to extended family members.

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