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News - November 1996

Protesters meet with APA over GID

In what may prove to be an historic meeting, four dozen demonstrators held a hour-long meeting with representatives of the American Psychiatric Association (APA) during their national conference for hospital administrators and managers.

The demonstrators, a remarkably diverse group including members of Transexual Menace (NYC, Chicago, Los Angeles, Tampa), It's Time America (Illinois, Wisconsin), Queer Nation, the Lesbian Avengers, TOPS, various leatherboys and at least one intersex person, spent the morning outside this conference at the downtown Marriot vigorously protesting the APA's use of Gender Identity Disorder or GID.

Demonstrators carried signs saying "Hey APA! How Many GAY KIDS Did You Treat TODAY?", "Get Your Laws OFF Our Bodies," and and handed out a thousand fliers headed "FLASH! APA Discovers Members Have New Disorder: GenderPatho-Philia -- an unnatural need to pathologize any gender behavior which makes you feel uncomfortable." In a bit of guerrilla theater, some protesters managed to insert the flier in hundreds of the APA program guides so they were the first thing attendees saw when registering.

GID has drawn increasing fire from genderqueers for its use in pathologizing transpeople who simply want sex-reassignment surgery (SRS) as well as in diagnosing and "treating" queer teens whose sole symptom is their parents discomfort over gender-variance. While demonstrators expressed anger over GID, many stressed the need to maintain some basis for insurance reimbursement for individuals seeking SRS, but as a physical condition, like pregnancy, rather than a mental disorder, like schizophrenia.

Said Menace spoketrans/spokes-herm Riki Wilchins, "If I want my nose done, it's a 'nose job' if I want my breasts done, it's a 'boob job,' but if I want my groin done, suddenly I have a 'mental disease.' GID is *not* about psychiatry, it's about punishing difference under the guise of practicing medicine."

In a related development, the Menace, the National Gay & Lesbian Task Force (NGLTF), Hermaphrodites With Attitude (HWA), and the Int'l Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC) have jointly called for picketing the APA's national offices in Washington DC, as part of NGLTF's annual "Creating Change" conference. The conference regularly attracts 2-3,000 queer activists from across the US, and this year will be held November 8-10 in DC.


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