Transgender Americans: Bradley Manning isn’t the only one
The case of Army Pvt. Bradley Manning has brought new focus to transgender issues in the US, seen by some as the next major civil rights movement. One question in particular is how to deal with transgender children in schools.
For many Americans, US Army Pvt. Bradley Manning – the young man who now wishes to be known as a transgender woman called “Chelsea Manning” – brought the issue of gender identity to mind for the first time.Skip to next paragraph
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Pvt. Manning, court martialed and sentenced this week to 35 years in a military prison for leaking some 700,000 classified items to the controversial whistleblower organization WikiLeaks, may be unusual in this regard, but he is far from unique. Nor is his particular circumstance – how to fit into a culture and society marked by historical, political, and religious norms about gender – necessarily unusual, even given its military aspect.
The Williams Institute at the UCLA School of Law estimates that there are nearly 700,000 transgender individuals in the US today – males who feel and think of themselves as female and vice versa. That’s less than 0.3 percent of the population.
But the figure may be understated as it becomes more acceptable for such individuals to reveal their self-perceived gender identity to what may be a critical world around them.
Among psychologists and psychiatrists, the trend has been to shift from labeling such inclinations as “gender identity disorder” to “Gender Dysphoria” (as the latest version of the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders does), which carries less of a stigma. (The American Psychiatric Association declassified homosexuality as a mental disorder in 1973.)
Advances in transgender rights – which are included in many gay rights laws – have followed.