By Moni Basu
December 27th, 2012
(CNN) – The American Psychiatric Association announced this month approved changes in its official guide to classifying mental illnesses.
Among the major announced revisions to the manual, known as DSM-5, is that Asperger’s syndrome will now be included in the diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder “to help more accurately and consistently diagnose children with autism,” the association said in a statement.
But the group made another big change that did not make as many headlines, though it is considered by many to be important.
The new DSM eliminates the term “gender identity disorder,” long considered stigmatizing by mental health specialists and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender activists.
That old diagnosis meant that a man who believed he was destined to be a woman was considered mentally ill.
No longer so.
The new DSM refers to “gender dysphoria,” which focuses the attention on only those who feel distressed by their gender identity.
“I think it’s a significant change,” said Jack Drescher, a member of the American Psychiatric Association group that made the recommendation after working on it for four years. “It’s clinically defensible, but it reduces the amount of stigma and harm that existed before.”