PolitiFact’s Grace Abels asked on Monday if gender dysphoria is a mental disorder and while she never actually answered the question, Abels was sure of one thing: conservatives are wrong.
Abels weaves back and forth between answering yes, but that is why “gender-affirming care” is necessary to no, there’s nothing wrong with being transgender, because that is allegedly “not the same thing” as having gender dysphoria.
At the same time, Abels cites several conservative Twitter users as well as an April 30 Meet the Press appearance by GOP presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy to claim “A growing chorus of online voices claim that gender dysphoria — a condition of distress sometimes experienced by transgender people — is a mental illness or disorder.”
Abels proceeded to do some expert shopping, “But experts say this is not correct: Being transgender and having gender dysphoria are not mental illnesses. Historically the diagnosis has carried the term ‘disorder,’ but experts no longer view it as a pathology and are working to destigmatize the diagnosis while continuing to ensure access to gender-affirming healthcare.”
Quoting the American Psychiatric Association, Abels defined gender dysphoria as “psychological distress that results from an incongruence between one’s sex assigned at birth and one’s gender identity.”
Seeking to “break down” what that means, Abels claimed that “medical experts and most major medical organizations agree that sex and gender are not the same thing.”
Major medical organizations are not immune from politicizing junk science, but continuing with them Abels goes on to claim that sex is determined by “genes, hormones and genitalia,” but naturally missed the implications of calling hormone treatment “gender-affirming.”
As for gender, Abels again relies on politicized experts, “Gender is different…Gender identity refers to someone’s internal sense of being a man, woman, something in-between or neither, and it can change over someone’s lifetime.” Of course, neither Abels nor her band of experts ever bothered to mention what it means to be a man or a woman and how you could identify as one over the other if you don’t even know what the terms mean.
As PolitiFact tells it “Having gender dysphoria is not the same thing as being trans. It’s an ‘emotional response to being trans,’ said Michael Hendricks, a Washington, D.C.-based clinical psychologist focused on gender diversity. ‘Being trans is who you are.’”
“And all experts we talked to agreed: Being trans is not a mental illness or disorder,” Abels continued. There’s the problem, all the experts “we” talked to were always going to say what “we” wanted to hear.
Circling back to the original question, Abels sought to dismiss the history of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manuel of Mental Disorders, “It reflects the social constructs and opinions of a particular time in history. Homosexuality was also in the DSM until 1973, when it was removed because of activism from the LGBTQ+ community.”
It’s probably not in Abels’s best interest to just admit that her sources are motivated by activism, but she was in too deep to appreciate the ramifications of that admission. Ultimately, Abels and her sources claim gender dysphoria has to be viewed as something for insurance purposes, “Although gender dysphoria did not exactly fit the criteria of a mental disorder, removing it from the manual would jeopardize access to gender-affirming care because without a diagnostic code, most insurance plans wouldn’t cover it, and incarcerated trans people could be denied health care.”
But what about the children? Abel concludes by seeking to debunk something called “rapid-onset gender dysphoria” by arguing that children know best and, apparently, never go through phases. She notes that nearly 40.8 percent of transgender survey participants “realized their identities after age 10.” Or in other words, almost 59.2 percent claim to have realized before age 10, because apparently people who can count their birthdays with just their fingers are capable of making such decisions.