Friday, July 21, 2006

Are Gender Identity (GI) Conflicts a Disease?

There is a nice discussion of gender identity over at the bioethics discussion blog which asks if gender identity conflicts, usually diagnosed as GID, should be considered a disease.

Bioethics Discussion Blog: Medicalization of GI: Can Conflicts in Gender Identity (GI) Be Considered a Disease?

I discovered this when looking up discussions of John Money who died the other week, since in the gender blogs I read there hasn't been a whole lot of discussion of Money and his legacy.

At any rate, for those that don't know, gender identity issues are often diagnosed as gender identity disorder, and as anyone who has seen Transamerica with Felicity Huffman as Bree knows, sometimes GID is treated medically with surgery. At one point Bree says something to the effect that don't you think it is odd that a mental disorder is best treated with surgery.

My answer to the original question is yes, gender identity conflicts can be considered a disease and as I point out in my response at the bioethics blog, sexual reassignment surgery, hormones and other treatments can and do have a positive effect on the lives of people with severe gender identity disorder.

At the same time there are clearly shades of intensity to gender identity conflicts and many people with GID don't go the whole way but try to accommodate themselves as best they can to a society that is not very tolerant of people who don't fit the binary gender roles our society attempts to enforce. They, maybe I should say we, are uncomfortable but able to function and quite frankly many of the problems faced are with society's preconceptions and biases, and sometimes these are quite severe.

So for us, maybe GI conflicts don't rise to the level of requiring medical intervention, but perhaps we do need some social intervention to encourage greater acceptance of variation in gender expression.

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