Which Jenner Do You See?

When you hear the name “Bruce Jenner,” which persona do you envision: the dauntless 1976 Olympic decathlon winner or the vulnerable emerging transsexual?  Either way, he’s actually the same person struggling with a slowly increasing phenomenon.

As definitions of transsexualism evolve, society remains somewhat unclear how to approach it.  Doctors once diagnosed gender identity disorder (GID) as a psychiatric disorder treatable by psychotherapy, but more and more, debates continue to swirl around this topic.  Having renamed GID to “gender dysorphia” (referring to the experience of discontentment caused by sex characteristics assigned by birth), advocates argue that the term “gender identity disorder” implies a dysfunction on the part of the individual and creates a stigma.

However, if psychiatrists completely remove gender dysorphia from the American Psychological Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM), then individuals seeking psychotherapy for this condition would have to pay out-of-pocket.  The “normality” of gender dysorphia would negate medical necessity for sex reassignment and other procedures, deeming them cosmetic treatments uncovered by insurance.  (Homosexuality, by the way, was completely removed from the DSM in 1986.  Transsexualism seems to be following in the same footprints of controversy.)

Perhaps the best way to ascertain how a transsexual views himself or herself is to ask him/her.  Depending on the influence of their societal constructs, they may consider cross-gender feelings to be either a pathological disorder or a norm.  As much as governments across the globe have grappled with defining this issue, the matter ultimately comes down to each individual.  Much of the stress associated with gender dysorphia comes from lack of societal acceptance, so each person must be treated uniquely.

At South Denver Psychotherapy, we provide support for the LGBT community and offer GLBT counseling in the Denver and Littleton areas, including gay couples counseling and counseling for lesbians.  Call today if you or someone you know is struggling with any of these issues.