Classification of transsexual and transgender people

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The classification of transsexual people and people with other gender atypicalities has been done since the mid-1960s. In medicine and psychiatry, terms such as heterosexual and homosexual have been based on a person's sex assignment at birth, which has prompted the increased use of androphilia and gynephilia to avoid terminological confusion and bias. In social, political and medical contexts, the classification is often relative to one's desired sex.

Sex Orientation Scale (1966)[edit]

Harry Benjamin created the Sex Orientation Scale (SOS) to classify and understand various forms and subtypes of transvestism and transsexualism in biological males.[1] It was a seven-point scale with three types of transvestism, three types of transsexualism, and one category for typical males. Benjamin's Scale references and uses the Kinsey scale in distinguishing between "true transsexualism" and "transvestism".

Group Type Name Kinsey scale Conversion operation?
1 I Transvestite (Pseudo) 0-6 Not considered in reality
1 II Transvestite (Fetishistic) 0-2 Rejected
1 III Transvestite (True) 0-2 Actually rejected, but idea can be attractive
2 IV Transsexual (Nonsurgical) 1-4 Attractive but not requested or attraction not admitted
3 V Transsexual (Moderate intensity) 4-6 Requested, usually indicated
3 VI Transsexual (High intensity) 6 Urgently requested and usually attained; indicated

Benjamin noted, "It must be emphasized again that the remaining six types are not and never can be sharply separated."[1] Benjamin added a caveat: "It has been the intention here to point out the possibility of several conceptions and classifications of the transvestitic and the transsexual phenomenon. Future studies and observations may decide which one is likely to come closest to the truth and in this way a possible understanding of the etiology may be gained."[1]

Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (1980)[edit]


Gender identity disorder
Other namesGender dysphoria

Transsexualism was included for the first time in the DSM-III in 1980.[2]

"Gender Identity Disorder" was a term created in the DSM-III in regard to transsexuals, and the categories were "GID/Children Transsexualism"; "GID/Adolescent and Adult, Non-transsexual type" and "GID/Not Otherwise Specified". Notably, this did not address Late-onset transsexualism, where patients may not have had symptoms as children. Interestingly, in the major revision of the DSM, DSM-III-R, they were placed in the category "Disorders Usually First Evident in Infancy, Childhood or Adolescence". The problem was that it got lost here, as well as the issue of adult onset explained above.[3]

In the DSM-III, the terms "Homosexual", "Heterosexual", and "Asexual" were used - with quite a bit of confusion.[3] (These terms were replaced in the DSM-IV by "Attracted to males", "Attracted to Females", "Attracted to Both" and "Attracted to neither.")


The DSM-III-R, published in 1987, retained the term transsexualism.[4] It was located under "Disorders Usually First Evident in Infancy, Childhood or Adolescence".

DSM-IV and DSM-IV-TR[edit]

Gender Identity Disorder in Adolescents and Adults replaced the term transsexualism. In the DSM-IV-TR, GID is placed in the category of Sexual Disorders, with the subcategory of Gender Identity Disorders. The names were changed in DSM-IV to "Gender Identity Disorder in Children", "Gender Identity Disorder in Adolescents or Adults", and "Gender Identity Disorder Not Otherwise Specified".


In the DSM-5, gender identity disorder was replaced with gender dysphoria; the focus is no longer on identity, but on the distress that trans people may experience when their biological sexes do not line up with said identities. Persons with gender dysphoria are also no longer classified by sexuality.[5]

International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems[edit]

The International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems (most commonly known by the abbreviation ICD) is according to its publisher, the United Nations-sponsored World Health Organization "the standard diagnostic tool for epidemiology, health management and clinical purposes."[6] It is known as a health care classification system that provides codes to classify diseases and a wide variety of signs, symptoms, abnormal findings, complaints, social circumstances, and external causes of injury or disease. Under this system, every health condition can be assigned to a unique category and given a code, up to six characters long. Such categories can include a set of similar diseases.

The International Classification of Diseases is published by the World Health Organization (WHO) and used worldwide for morbidity and mortality statistics, reimbursement systems, and automated decision support in health care. This system is designed to promote international comparability in the collection, processing, classification, and presentation of these statistics. The ICD is a core classification of the WHO Family of International Classifications (WHO-FIC).[7]

The ICD is revised periodically and is currently in its eleventh revision. Annual minor updates and triennial major updates of the ICD are published by the WHO.[8]


The ICD-10, as it is therefore known, was developed in 1992 to track health statistics. The ICD is part of a "family" of guides that can be used to complement each other, including also the International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health which focuses on the domains of functioning (disability) associated with health conditions, from both medical and social perspectives.

In the ICD-10, transsexualism is located within Gender identity disorders, F64 in ICD-10 Chapter V: Mental and behavioural disorders under the heading "Disorders of adult personality and behaviour".

ICD-11 for Mortality and Morbidity Statistics (2018)[edit]

The eleventh revision of ICD, ICD-11 was published in June 2018 by WHO [9] and was revised using Web 2.0 principles.[10] In this new major revision, ICD-11 has abolished codes F64 Gender identity disorders [11] and F65.1 Fetishistic Transvestism [12], among other sexual practices, that used to be refereed to as paraphilias[13]. The above codes have been replaced in part by code HA60 Gender incongruence of adolescence or adulthood[14], which refers to the three conditions that classify the condition of gender dysphoria.[14]

The major paradigm shift is reflected in the last sentence from code HA60: "Gender variant behavior and preferences alone are not a basis for assigning the diagnosis." This has profoundly changed the way Science and Psychology views transgender people and transexuals, as it has removed the stigma related to being referred to as people who suffer from paraphilias [15], 132 years after Richard von Krafft-Ebing first published Psychopathia Sexualis.[16]

Blanchard's transsexualism typology (1980s)[edit]

Blanchard's transsexualism typology (also Blanchard autogynephilia theory (BAT) and Blanchard's taxonomy) is a psychological typology of male-to-female transsexualism created by Ray Blanchard through the 1980s and 1990s, building on the work of his colleague, Kurt Freund. Blanchard divides male-to-female (MtF or M2F) transsexuals into two different groups: "homosexual transsexuals", who are attracted to men, and "non-homosexual transsexuals", who are "autogynephilic" (sexually aroused by the thought or image of themselves as a woman). The typology does not purport to identify the cause of transsexualism in natal males, but it has some implications for the cause—specifically, that the cause of transsexualism may not be the same for both groups.[citation needed]

Scientific criticism of the research and theory has come from John Bancroft, Jaimie Veale, Larry Nuttbrock, Charles Allen Moser, and others who argue that the theory is poorly representative of MtF transsexuals, reduces gender identity to a matter of attraction, is non-instructive, and that the research cited in support of the theory has inadequate control groups or is contradicted by other data. Supporters of the theory include Anne Lawrence, J. Michael Bailey, James Cantor, and others who argue that there are significant differences between the two groups, including sexuality, age of transition, ethnicity, IQ, fetishism, and quality of adjustment.

The theory has been the subject of protests in the transsexual and larger LGBT community, although it has its supporters. The issues with Blanchard's work were again the subject of criticism with the publication of Bailey's The Man Who Would Be Queen in 2003. In 2005, Blanchard distanced himself from Bailey's affirmation of the scientific certainty of the cause, expressing that further research was needed before said certainty could be sufficiently justified.[17]


  1. ^ a b c Benjamin, H. (1966). The Transsexual Phenomenon. New York: The Julian Press, page 22.
  2. ^ American Psychiatric Association. (1980). Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (3rd ed.). Washington, D.C.: Author.
  3. ^ a b Pauly, I. B. (1993). Terminology and classification of gender identity disorders. Journal of Psychology & Human Sexuality, 5, 1-12.
  4. ^ American Psychiatric Association. (1987). Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (3rd ed., rev.). Washington, D.C.: Author.
  5. ^ "Gender Dysphoria: DSM-5 Reflects Shift In Perspective On Gender Identity". Huffington Post. 4 June 2013.
  6. ^ access:26 June 2012
  7. ^ World Health Organization. Family of International Classifications. Accessed 12 July 2011.
  8. ^ WHO. List of Official ICD-10 Updates.
  9. ^ "ICD-11 Reference Guide". Retrieved 2018-07-20.
  10. ^ "WHO adopts Wikipedia approach for key update". CBC News. The Canadian Press. May 2, 2007.
  11. ^ "ICD-10 Version:2016". Retrieved 2018-07-20.
  12. ^ "ICD-10 Version:2016". Retrieved 2018-07-20.
  13. ^ "WHO takes bdsm and fetishism off the sick list - Revise F65". Retrieved 2018-07-20.
  14. ^ a b "ICD-11 - Mortality and Morbidity Statistics". Retrieved 2018-07-20.
  15. ^ "ICD-11 - Mortality and Morbidity Statistics". Retrieved 2018-07-20.
  16. ^ Krafft-Ebing, R. von (Richard) (2008-03-06). Psychopathia Sexualisavec recherches spéciales sur l'inversion sexuelle (in French). Translated by Csapo, Sigismond; Laurent, Emile.
  17. ^ Bancroft J (2009). Human sexuality and its problems. Elsevier. pp. 291. ISBN 978-0-443-05161-6.

External links[edit]

External resources