THE GREAT MYTH Joan Hoff
All of us, whether we know it or not, are affected by a great myth that has been "documented" by the Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, or DSM III-R, as it is commonly known. This manual defines crossdressers in the context of a mental disorder tied to fetishistic behavior. As you can see, this distorts our emotions and paints a false picture of our lifestyle. Unfortunately, this manual is the guiding light for most psychologists, psychiatrists, and social workers. The result is misunderstanding, even hostility, and a denial of medical benefits. The situation, and our concerns, are best described by Tere Frederickson and Linda Phillips of the Boulton & Park Society. They Say: Public awareness of transgendered behavior in genetic males is fraught with many misconceptions. The most immediate image of a transvestite is that of an effeminate homosexual, referred to as a "drag queen," as in the film La Cage Aux Folles, or as shown at gay rights parades on television. However, exposure to transgendered individuals is largely through the entertainment media, where the transvestite or transsexual is typically cast as either the evil, bloodthirsty villian...Dressed to Kill, Psycho, and Silence of the Lambs...or as a comical exaggeration of a woman, as in Some like it Hot. Nothing could be further from the truth. Over the past years there has been very little positive press in regards to crossdressing and transsexualism. However, in the recent past, some positive education has taken place. Television talk shows, such as Joan Rivers and Sally Jessy Raphael, and a book by Mariette Pathy Allen, Transformations, Crossdressers and Those Who Love Them, have been produced. In these cases, typical transgendered males are artfully and accurately depicted. Unfortunately, these positive efforts are oftentimes overshadowed by sensationalism and negativism. Thus, the myth of transgendered behavior continues in the eyes of the public. Transgendered people therefore frequently suffer unwarranted discrimination and social stigma when their secret is discovered or revealed. Very little factual literature on the subject is readily available to the general population to correct the misconception of popular social mythology. Current opinions of European North American psycho-socio professionals today is that transgendered behavior is manifested in two basic forms of mental disorder. This opinion is reflected in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM III-R) of the American Psychiatric Association. First, placement of transgendered behavior in this document tends to lead one to the conclusion that transgendered behavior ia s mental disorder; implying some sort of mental disfunction or deficiency. This adds to the myth of transgendered behavior as depicted in Dressed to Kill, Psycho, and Silence of the Lambs. Second, this manual defines two narrowly-focused types of transgendered behavior: 1. fetishistic transvestism, and 2. gender dysphoric transsexualism. Regardless of the psychiatric or psychological school of thought that is applied to any research, every interpretation is made in the DSM III-R frame of reference. In other words, the veracity of DSM III-R is accepted as fact. It is this fact and some of the societal myths that must be challenged. The Boulton & Parks Society is spearheading a national effort to correct this travesty. They need to accumulate data from the TV/TS community to disprove the "accepted wisdom of the professionals." They have prepared an in-depth questionaire. It deeply explores our feelings and emotions. By completing and submitting the questionaire, we can help ourselves. This is very important. YOU MUST HELP. THE MYTH MUST BE DESTROYED. ONLY YOU CAN DO IT. NOTE: The above is reprinted from the October issue of "Rosebuds", the newsletter of the Tiffany Club of New England with permission of the author. A copy of the Boulton & Parks Society survey is posted on the board under the filename "SURVEY". Please download, complete the survey and forward it to the Boulton & Parks Society. The address is in the survey. Thank you.