Is being trans a mental illness?

You’re mentally ill, we don’t validate anorexics delusions why trans people’s!!!!! 

Ahh the battle cry of the anti-trans keyboard warriors. This rhetoric is everywhere, as is the rhetoric from the opposition – “but it was removed from the DSM V as a mental illness!!”. So I figured it was probably about time to clear up this bullshit a little. You know? Give a nice concise and clear answer to all of this stupid crap, so the next time you hear someone saying it is or isn’t a mental illness, you can link back here and tell them to shut their god damn whore mouths.

First, lets look at the claim “it was removed from the DSM V as a mental illness”. Between DSM IV and DSM V there were some minor changes to the APA’s definition and description of gender dysphoria. You can find them listed here. You will also find a paragraph detailing the need for change between the two versions, and specifically what was changed. Was it dropped as a mental illness? No. All that happened was the name got changed to remove ‘disorder’ from the title.

In a medical context, a disorder is a very specific thing. Medical dictionaries describe it as: A disturbance of function, structure, or both, resulting from a genetic or embryonic failure in development or from exogenous factors such as poison, trauma, or disease. The APA came to the conclusion that gender dysphoria does not fit this description – which I agree with. As far as medical science knows, the disturbance of function/structure of being dysphoric does not result from genetic or embryonic failure in development nor from exogenous factors such as poison, trauma or disease. There are lots of theories, but until there is anything concrete there’s no reason to continue using that term. Especially – as the documentation notes – there is a stigma surrounding the word “disorder”. This stigma can present legal and social challenges, which can contribute to poor mental health. So in short, they changed it to be A) more appropriate to what they know about the condition and B) to help ensure people with the condition have a better chance of a relatively normal life.

However, despite disorder being dropped from the name, it was never dropped as a mental illness. Heck, the mere fact its in the DSM at all proves that since its the diagnostic and statistic manuals for mental health conditions. Personally? I think this is stupid. Its tantamount to sweeping the problem under the rug, rather than fixing it – problem being the social stigma surrounding the word disorder. Lets start calling every mental health condition a disorder instead – show people how truly harmless the word is. Depression is a disorder, as is anxiety. A lot of people suffer these conditions and still deserve love and support from their friends and governments. Plus, with a little help and treatment they can live relatively normal lives.

That’s that side of the argument dealt with, it absolutely is a mental illness – perhaps not a disorder according to one definition – but a mental illness nonetheless. What about the other half? Those who argue we shouldn’t “validate trans delusions” because we don’t do the same for anorexics or schizophrenics?

Well to those people I would say, you’re right – we don’t validate delusions for schizophrenics and we don’t tell anorexics they are fat and need to lose some weight. Those things obviously make the condition worse for the patient and can eventually lead to serious harm or even death. This is where trans as a mental illness differs entirely. Untreated dysphoric trans people pose a risk to themselves, in some severe cases this has involved self mutilation of genitalia and even suicide.

See the problem is the more your body develops untreated as a trans person, the further away you feel from it. This also means that if/when you eventually do begin treatment, its a much harder road back. This is why there’s such a push to allow 16 year olds to begin medical transition, and for them to be allowed blockers before then. It ensures they’ll have the best chance of a happy life via having control over their physical development.

This is different from an anorexic who causes harm to themselves by starving themselves. Treatment for these people involves therapy and reassurance about their body. They’re treated until they are in a condition in which they do not pose a risk to themselves. Which is exactly what we do with trans people, however the best known method for treating the condition is transition. The entire of point of which is to minimise dysphoria and help the patient live a relatively normal life.

Taking control of your physical development through hormones has pretty good out comes, it minimises the dysphoria felt by the distance between your body and mind and bridges the gap as best as possible. However, you’ll be right in saying that the trans suicide rate is still high even despite treatments. According to this study a high good percentage of trans people, both men and women, have attempted suicide. The study separates between trans people who have a mental health disability and those who don’t – of those who don’t 37% of trans women and 40% of trans men had attempted suicide. With a MH disability the number for both rose to 67%. That’s a lot of suicides.

However the study also asked a bunch of questions and amongst respondents who said they had attempted suicide: 69% became homeless, 63% were evicted, 62% denied housing, 64% had to have sex with people to pay rent or stay at people’s houses. In college 54% were harassed or bullied, 68% physically assaulted and 78% sexually assaulted. For work experience 57% were removed from direct contact with clients/patients/customers, 55% lost their jobs, 51% were harassed at work, 55% received physical violence at work, 64% were sexually assaulted, 54% were forced to present in the wrong gender to keep their job, 58% couldn’t work out a suitable bathroom solution with their employer, 56% were misgendered, 54% had co-workers share information about them they were not supposed to share. 49% had their relationships end with their partner. 55% had their ex limit access to their children. 58% had the court do the same. 50% had children choose not to speak with or hang out with them. 57% had their parents and family choose not to speak to them. 65% were victims of domestic violence by a family member. 52% lost close friends.

There are a lot more statistics in there, but I think you’re probably picking up what I’m laying down. Suicide rates are hella high because a lot of trans people are treated awfully in society. From having limited access to friends, family and even their own kids to problems with getting medical treatment, to people thinking its okay to abuse and assault trans people, even sexually. So I guess we’ve come full circle – we’re back at the reason they dropped “disorder” from the name, social stigma.

Its not the wording of the condition in a book that is the cause of the social stigma, you could see a kid with psoriasis and removing “skin condition” from its description isn’t going to make you want to sit next to his flaky ass all of a sudden. Social stigma comes from social interactions, such as the ones listed in statistics above. A build up of feeling ostracised and pushed out of society will lead to suicide in any person. Especially those suffering a mental health condition, such as depression or anxiety. We need to stop trying to sweep the problem under the rug, we need to face it head on for what it is. Bullshit.

A lot of people across the world have mental illnesses and live perfectly happy and relatively normal lives. They’re fathers, mothers, nurses, doctors, police officers, traffic wardens, they make the sandwiches in subway, they work in your bank, they are a good portion of the people you will ever meet. Mental illness isn’t something we should shun or be afraid of, we need to accept that it is part of life and better understand it so that it doesn’t hinder us or the people around us. If we work together on the social stigma of mental illnesses, trans included, we can all be the best versions of ourselves – but its a team effort, we’ve all gotta pitch in.

In short, yes, gender dysphoria is a mental illness – does that matter? Not even slightly. We should still treat people with love and compassion, especially when they’re giving us every reason not to. That’s how we make the world a better place for everyone to live in.

Note: this post only applies to the clinically diagnosed gender dysphoric trans people. Not the tumblr-tard transtrenders who do it out of a sociopolitical statement of gender non-conformity. These people don’t have gender dysphoria and so can’t be called mentally ill for being trans. This is perhaps where some of the backlash against being called a mental illness has come from – as its not unlike this tier of people to argue for this kind of thing.  You can read about their fight to depathologise trans entirely and why its retarded here.






6 thoughts on “Is being trans a mental illness?

  1. Louis Naughtic says:

    It seems you may have missed the underlying issue. The question is not how the condition is labeled, or whether or not it’s genuinely felt. The issue is whether or not the condition is caused by psychological or biological factors – is it psychosomatic, or resulting from neurological deformity? If we determine the cause, then we can best treat it.

    If it’s psychosomatic, then support of transsexuality would be akin to telling an anorexic they’re fat; supporting their transition would be akin to giving a anorexic liposuction just because they want it.

    If you have access to research on the subject, please share it.


    • cursede says:

      Thanks for the comment! And I kinda did cover this, but I guess I skimmed over it because well, we just don’t know what causes it. At least not for certain anyway, there’s a lot of evidence for all the different claims but no real drive to find out the answer at all.

      Personally? From the evidence I’ve seen I’d argue it was a brain condition which you’re born with – though of course I can’t fully support this any more than someone saying “its all social factors and psychosomatic!” can support that. There needs to be a lot more research done before we have any real answers about this subject.


      • Louis Naughtic says:

        Aye. I’m not trans, so I lack that evidence to go by, but I’m leaning toward psychosomatic, given the behaviors of the trans I’ve been able to observe. But it’s like the flamboyant gay dilemma: are all gay men flamboyant [I know they’re not] or are only flamboyant men visible?

        Might be coincidence that the majority of trans I’ve observed have an odd.. frivolity to them, which is common in people whom hide in their fantasies, and should not accompany someone claiming to be in that much internal turmoil; might be a symptom of the personally type required to develop psychosomatic dysphoria. On the other hand, it might be that dysphoria generates a tendency to disassociate to avoid the pain, and from that comes the frivolity. Quite the pickle, which I eagerly await the resolution of.

        Liked by 1 person

        • cursede says:

          I’d say the best way to find out is to connect with more and more trans people. Confirm or deny your hypothesis through experience. At least that’s something to go on.


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