The LGBT community has been making leaps and bounds in their struggle for equality (there are as of the November election 9 states with legalized gay marriage), and while the fight is nowhere near over, they have passed another huge hurdle. For one of the first times in history, it's the T in LGBT that's getting the advance in rights. Often the most overlooked section of the LGBT community, transgendered individuals often face wide spread discrimination and confusion. However, as of May 2013, they will no longer be considered mentally ill. Up until recently, transgendered individuals were considered to be suffering from “gender identity disorder." The APA (American Psychological Association) hopes that by removing the word "disorder" from the name will take away some of the stigma and the cultural perception that there is something wrong with transgendered individuals that need to be fixed. Currently, the goal of working with transgendered individuals is to help them with the stress, alienation, and confusion they may feel and allow them to accept themselves.
In 1973, the APA decided that homosexuality should no longer be considered a mental illness. The move was seen as vital as gay citizens sought equal rights (the consideration of homosexuality being a mental illness was a huge hindrance to equality). Now, the DMV will change the name from gender identity disorder to gender dysphoria. (The DMV is considered the holy grail of mental disorders and diseases. It is the manual that psychiatrists and therapists use to refer to for diagnosis and for treatment.) This will take away the stigma for those who are seeking help as they struggle with gender identity issues and the pressures society has put them in to choose a side.
The APA is still currently making general guidelines for treating people who have gender dysphoria, though they say that their focus will not be to stigmatize transsexuals ("We know there is a whole community of people out there who are not seeking medical attention and live between the two binary categories. We wanted to send the message that the therapist’s job isn't to pathologize.") but instead to support "rights of persons of any age who are gender variant, transgender, or transsexual."
While most people see the news as positive, some are pointing out that by no longer considering being transgender as a medical condition, it is also making it more unlikely that insurance companies will ever help to fund gender reassignment surgeries. This lack of coverage often leads to transgendered individuals obtaining health care through medical tourism, which can often be highly dangerous.
The APA hopes to help the transgender community with obtaining medical help for gender reassignment, and support people in their decision rather to suppress. While the community is far from equality, this is a huge step in the right direction. While the exact consequences of changing the term is unknown, it is certain that the move of the APA to be more understanding and accepting of the LGBT community is a sign of the changing cultural climate.