Social Activist, Former APA President Alfred Freedman Dead at 94

From Medscape:

Psychiatrist Instrumental in Removing Homosexuality as a Mental Disorder

Fran Lowry

April 25, 2011

Alfred M. Freedman, MD, who served as the 102nd president of the American Psychiatric Association (APA) from 1973 to 1974 and was instrumental in removing homosexuality from the official Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (Second Edition) as a designated psychiatric disorder, has died in Manhattan at the age of 94 years.

In a statement released by the APA, James H. Scully Jr., medical director and chief executive officer of the APA, said Dr. Freedman “helped lead important changes for psychiatry and the APA as well as our entire society as he helped to end discrimination against gays and lesbians nearly 40 years ago.”

Dr. Freedman, who was active on the APA board as a past-president well into his 90s, became president as a petition candidate by the slimmest of margins.
Dr. Alfred Freedman. Courtesy New York Medical College

In an interview with Michael Blumenfield, MD, The Sidney E. Frank Distinguished Professor of Psychiatry at New York Medical College, Valhalla, that appeared in the Journal of Gay & Lesbian Mental Health in 2009, Dr. Freedman described the unusual circumstances that led to his election.

“The Committee of Concerned Psychiatrists approached me to be the petition candidate for the election. I declined at first, but finally, in December, feeling sure that I would be defeated, I accepted the nomination and was elected with a margin of 3 votes out of 20,000!”

Tumultuous Times

The years preceding his election were a time of social turmoil and desire for change. Two of the major issues of the day were the Vietnam War and the debate over removing homosexuality as a disease. The APA members were deeply divided about both issues.

“From the end of World War II until into the 1970s, the APA had been run by a clique; the nominating committee would present a slate with single candidates for each office who would automatically be elected. It was known as an old boy’s club and there was great resentment. That group resisted any change or reform in regards to the Vietnam War, or to sexuality, or to a number of other issues of the day,” Dr. Freedman recalled in the interview.

As soon as he took office, Dr. Freedman supported a resolution, which was drafted by psychiatrist Robert L. Spitzer, of Columbia University, to remove homosexuality from the list of mental disorders. The resolution was passed on December 15, 1973, by a vote of 13 to 0, with 2 abstentions.

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4 Responses to “Social Activist, Former APA President Alfred Freedman Dead at 94”

  1. Andrea B. Says:


    Did he vote to make transsexualism a mental disorder in the DSM or against it?

    • Suzan Says:

      You know Andrea, that I demonstrated for the removal of Homosexuality from the DSM. I also went to conferences where I met Dr. Evelyn Hooker and others who warned me that while transsexualism wasn’t in the DSM that there were right wing forces who would push for it to be put in the DSM. That they would use people interested in the money pie that surrounds transition to get it into the DSM. It is in the DSM, in part to guarantee the psych industry income from the transition industry.

  2. Andrea B. Says:

    Suzy as far as I am concerned, everyone who voted for transsexualism to be in the DSM and everyone who has profited from it since such as psychiatrists, psychologists, sociologists and lawyers, belongs in jail to rot.

    Hopefully someday all of them will be jailed for human rights violations, but I would not hold my breath for that one.

    I have tried to get into the heads of activists that it is money that is the problem nothing else. They are to wrapped up in there various ideologies to see the wood for the trees.

    Once it becomes financially unviable for a shrink or any other form of perverted money grabber to abuse transsexual people, then transsexualism will probably be dropped as a mental disorder.

    We should be suing every one of those bastards every day, regardless of how good or bad they are supposed to be. We need to destroy them financially.

    • Suzan Says:

      Many supported its inclusion in the DSM as the price for continuing SRS at a time when the Catholics and ultra right wing along with the Religious right were demanding they close down the programs.

      The SOC that included the slice of the money pie for the psychiatric industry meant people who hadn’t gotten SRS during the era of freedom could do so.

      No compromise sounds good but the consequences would have been unconscionable.

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