(Original post by brightonlad89)
Homosexuality and transsexuality are completely different, yes. The comparison comes in the reasons behind their mental illness classifications as their level of perceived deviance, in their respective times, were seen as quite similar. Homosexuality was viewed as a threat to gender binary (gay men as having something wrong with their masculinity), and although we have today gotten beyond that, transsexuality is viewed as a similar line of deviance to what homosexuality used to be. They are polars apart of course in objective terms, but in societal deviance their 'offence' to society's norms are comparable (medicalisation has replaced criminalisation in many cases to control perceived deviance).
There are many reasons why the mental illness classification for transsexuality/G.I.D. is not in the service users' best interests and I'll name a few:
- The name itself Gender Identity Disorder, implies the issue is psychological disturbance of one's gender identity (a problem in the mind) and justifies layman's misconceptions such as the old chestnut of 'a transsexual woman is really a man who thinks she's a woman'. 87% of transsexual people in my study felt that the name of the disorder, and its mental illness categorisation, negatively affected how laymen viewed the condition and also contradicted their basis for argument against transphobia.
- Mental illness classification relies upon criteria that is agreed upon by a panel of experts rather than the referral to biological data. This means in reality that people sit down and decide what gender dysphoric people should be allowed treatment. i.e. will allowing X to transition, will X then become a more socially acceptable person?'. If the answer is no, they will have to jump through a heck of a lot of hoops and suffer disrespect from people (doctors) who they have turned to, often in distress.
For example, a post-transition trans man on a morning TV show a year or so ago was also a cross-dresser (transvestite) and did drag shows in caberet bars. So, here we had this man who was assigned a female sex role at birth, who happily lives as a gay man but also likes to, on weekends, dress as a drag queen and perform in gay bars. This exists in non-transsexual men, so of course can exist in transsexual men also. But, had he disclosed this during consultation, he would almost certainly have been denied treatment despite his hobby and sexuality having nothing to do with whether or not his brain sex is male.
I believe personally that it would benefit more from being listed as physical condition as, unlike 'other' mental disorders, successful treatment does not focus on altering thought patterns and behaviours, but to correct the secondary sexual characteristics of say, a female infant who was born with a penis and subsequently raised as male.
The mental illness system is useful of course in a lot of circumstances, but our current knowledge just means that it can be more detrimental in some cases than good due to its lack of objectivity.