Thursday, March 16, 2006

News to me...

Apparently "homosexual" is no longer an acceptable term for people with same-sex attraction. This change in preference in the SSA community strikes me as odd, since historically it's a pretty clinical, neutral term, but apparently there are some who will argue with me over both my impression and my use of the word "clinical," since the American Psychiatric Assocation declared some time ago that SSA is not to be classified as a diagnosable mental disorder, but just as another expression of humanity, part of that great diversity that comprises the human species. Maybe it's not a widespread change of acceptable nomenclature, I only heard the assertion made once--I mean, the one about the change in preferred terminology; the APA bit I heard once before, not even a year ago, yet the source I have at hand says the APA published the decision in 1973--although I've been hearing "queer" used a little bit more lately than I did in the past, and the alphabet soup that covers for Gay, Lesbian, Other, Etc. keeps getting richer, but maybe I'm seeing two largely unrelated phenomena.

Excuse me while I dial my credulity and respect for the APA down a few notches.

It's not diagnosable? Is the APA trying to say it's not a distinct condition they should be identifying, even though the symptoms are obvious, at least to the person with SSA? Having SSA might be something worth factoring in during your observations or diagnosis of someone coming to see you as a psychologist, wouldn't it? The only alternative reading I can think of is that they mean it's not actually a disorder, which still wouldn't it make it a nonissue on the couch.

Isn't it a disorder, though? Is being disinclined to form species-perpetuating dyads a legitimate and natural variation in the phenome, an expression of a normal genotype (if it's genetic after all)? We're not talking about a trivial trait like hair color, or something you can chalk up to shyness. We're talking about something as functionally basic to being human as being born without testes or a uterus. Maybe it's neurochemical instead of anatomical (which would still be biochemical in origin, in all likelihood), maybe it's environmental like long-term abuse from a family member, but either way, it's a condition that yields no offspring, and all these other cases qualify as problems to be solved, or managed, so why is homosexuality excepted?

Producing offspring is part of any orthodox (ah, maybe there's my problem--I'm trying to be concrete and consistent) definition of life. Some may elect not to procreate, or may be prevented by external circumstances, but an inherent inability to do so, either physical or mental, logically must be disordered, medically as well as morally.

Why not just define diabetes or bipolar disorder as undiagnosable conditions? Maybe these conditions bring something good to the table. After all, folks with sickle cell anemia boast a higher resistance to malaria.

Oh, wait. SCA still has its own concrete drawbacks, as do radical shifts in mood and blood sugar.

Who's making these decisions? Do we also want to stop referring to people in hospitals as patients, and calling their illnesses diseases or vice-versa, in order to empower them to feel like nothing's wrong?

We all have our debilitating features. Some more than others, some more obvious than others. Saying it ain't so doesn't make it otherwise.

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