I am not crazy! I am not crazy! OK, sorry for the drama, but I needed to get that out of my system. As far as I know, I am the only student here at UCSB who has been diagnosed with Gender Identity Disorder. Therefore, it is my dubious honor to address the numerous inaccuracies that I discovered in “The Reader’s Voice: Praising Drag Queens Perpetuates Lack of Treatment for Mentally Ill” (Daily Nexus, May 19).
To begin with, drag queens do not have Gender Identity Disorder. Mr. Hastings is incorrect in both his definition of the disorder as well as the implications thereof. Drag queens are, generally speaking, homosexual males who participate in this cross-gender play as a form of political protest and sometimes as a form of entertainment. Most drag queens do not identify as the “opposite” sex and do not wish to do so. There are some drag queens who are in fact transgender, however the vast majority are not. In addition, there are also drag kings – women dressing as men – who serve much the same purpose as drag queens. I want to make it clear that drag queens and drag kings as a group are in no way transgender and their members generally do not have Gender Identity Disorder. Therefore, while I’m certain some drag queens are mentally ill, it certainly isn’t because of their performances.
I stated before that Mr. Hastings was wrong in his definition of Gender Identity Disorder. Gender Identity Disorder is defined by the DSM-IV, a psychiatric diagnostic manual, with the following description of symptoms:
“A strong and persistent identification with the opposite gender. There is a sense of discomfort in their own gender and may feel they were ‘born the wrong sex.’ This has been confused with cross-dressing or Transvestic Fetishism, but all are distinct diagnoses.”
Therefore, Mr. Hastings’ assertion that cross-dressing is somehow indicative of a diagnosis of Gender Identity Disorder is patently false. Crossdressing and transvestic fetishism are completely different forms of cross-gender behavior and have nothing to do with those who have Gender Identity Disorder.
Mr. Hastings said of those with Gender Identity Disorder, “They need psychiatric care to help them come to accept the body that they have been given and learn to be happy with themselves without playing an elaborate game of dress up.” If Mr. Hastings knew anything about Gender Identity Disorder and the methods of treatment, he no doubt would not have made this statement. Why? Gender Identity Disorder is considered untreatable by normal psychoanalytic means. Only quacks and charlatans still hold any hope of “curing” transgendered individuals of their horrid condition. Today, the only known and acceptable treatment is transition. Transition is the process of changing the body from one sex to another to match the gender identity of the individual. So, if Mr. Hastings really wants people with Gender Identity Disorder to get help as he claimed, then he is in fact in support of sex reassignment surgery and all other forms of transgender rights and activism. I invite Mr. Hastings to come to the Resource Center for Sexual & Gender Diversity, GenderqueerSB or several other places on campus where he can take his positive attitude and fight for transgender rights.
However, I seriously doubt that was ever Mr. Hastings’ driving reason for writing his letter to the editor. It is clear that he is more comfortable declaring others to be insane when they don’t fit into his view of the way the world should be. It is a much easier thing to do than actually learning something or, God forbid, attempting to understand and have compassion for your fellow man, woman or drag queen.
Alina Boyden is a junior medieval studies major.