Petition to APA Task Force

The American Psychological Association recently announced formation of a committee to address our health needs:

http://www.apa.org/monitor/oct05/transgender.html

Some have expressed concern about the makeup of this Task Force, which includes two people associated with The Clarke Institute, Anne Lawrence and Ken Zucker.

Below is a sample letter:


TO: APA Task Force on Gender Identity, Gender Variance, and Intersex Conditions

Dear Task Force members:

We are writing as individuals involved in mental health research, training, and practice to urge you to consult with transgender, transsexual, and intersex (TTI) organizations as part of the process of drafting recommendations for APA. We commend you for the work you have done already and for the initiative you have shown in attempting to reach TTI individuals within APA. However, for recommendations to be meaningful, there must also be an opportunity for community organizations who represent TTI consumers to provide input.

TTI communities and individuals have historically been intensely marginalized and mistreated by the mental health profession. To heal this damage, mental health professional associations must demonstrate that they are committed to changing the paternalistic attitudes of the past by involving TTI consumers in decision-making about the future.

The psychological treatment of TTI people has been highly contentious. Issues such as the pathologization and invasive treatment of intersex infants, pathologization of gender variance and so-called "conversion" and "reparative" therapies supported by some mental health professionals, enforced participation in research for TTI individuals seeking psychological services, so-called "normalization" therapies enforced on gender-variant children, and a lack of appropriate counselling for TTI individuals engaged with the mental health system are issues that have been the focus of much discussion among clinicians and TTI community members. TTI people who have had experience with the mental health system have a crucial perspective to offer on these issues.

We acknowledge and thank TTI individuals on the Task Force for their work to represent our communities. But we do not feel the perspectives of the six people on the Task Force are sufficient. Just as you have sought to consult with the membership of APA, we ask that you also seek to meaningfully consult with our communities, and particularly the organizations that have sufficient experience working with consumers to be able to bring forward perspectives that will otherwise go unheard. It is impractical to expect the few TTI individuals who have been able to overcome the significant barriers to being able to work as psychologists to be able to represent the diversity of TTI communities. It is also unreasonable to think that TTI individuals are satisfied by leaving representation to clinicians who have experience in this field. Clinicians have valuable perspectives to bring to this discussion. But just as women would not be satisfied by men saying "we can represent women because we work with them", so too do TTI individuals expect to have input on decisions that have the potential to profoundly affect our lives.

We believe that the APA Task Force should not attempt to determine priorities, directions, and recommendations for change without (at minimum) a meaningful consultation with TTI consumer organizations. Ideally, APA would commit to the kind of TTI clinician-consumer partnerships that projects in Canada, England, the USA, and elsewhere have demonstrated as having significant potential to advance mental health training, research, and practice. These projects demonstrate that TTI consumers, TTI clinicians, and non-TTI clinicians can work together collaboratively rather than in opposition. We hope APA will also take initiative in this way.

We look forward to your response to this letter.

Sincerely,

[Names, titles, affiliations, + email addresses of signers]

To offer your input on the survey, contact the APA Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual Concerns Office at (202) 336-6041 or via e-mail at lgbc@apa.org

This person should also be copied on e-mails:

Clinton W. Anderson
Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual Concerns Officer
American Psychological Association
750 First Street, NE
Washington, DC 20002-4242
(202) 336-6037
(202) 336-6040 FAX
canderson@apa.org
http://www.apa.org/pi/lgbc