Harry Benjamin International Gender Dysphoria Association Is Founded Summary

  • Last updated on November 11, 2022

The Harry Benjamin International Gender Dysphoria Association was founded to create standards of care for individuals with gender identity disorders. The association’s formation led to a cohesive treatment community for transsexuals and transgender individuals seeking care in a supportive and understanding environment.

Summary of Event

The Harry Benjamin International Gender Dysphoria Association, Inc. (HBIGDA), opened its doors in 1978 to establish care standards for transsexuals and to foster international collaboration on ideas about servicing those with special concerns about gender identity. Initial help for the group came from individuals such as Paul A. Walker, Jack C. Berger, Richard Green, Donald R. Laub, Charles L. Reynolds, Jr., Leo Wollman, and Jude Patton. The association was named for Harry Benjamin, a noted doctor in the field. [kw]Harry Benjamin International Gender Dysphoria Association Is Founded (1978) [kw]Benjamin International Gender Dysphoria Association Is Founded, Harry (1978) [kw]International Gender Dysphoria Association Is Founded, Harry Benjamin (1978) [kw]Gender Dysphoria Association Is Founded, Harry Benjamin International (1978) [kw]Dysphoria Association Is Founded, Harry Benjamin International Gender (1978) Harry Benjamin International Gender Dysphoria Association Gender Dysphoria Association, Harry Benjamin International Health and medicine;and gender identity[gender identity] [c]Transgender/transsexuality;1978: Harry Benjamin International Gender Dysphoria Association Is Founded[1240] [c]Health and medicine;1978: Harry Benjamin International Gender Dysphoria Association Is Founded[1240] [c]Science;1978: Harry Benjamin International Gender Dysphoria Association Is Founded[1240] [c]Organizations and institutions;1978: Harry Benjamin International Gender Dysphoria Association Is Founded[1240] Benjamin, Harry Walker, Paul A. Berger, Jack C. Green, Richard Laub, Donald R. Reynolds, Charles L Jr. Wollman, Leo Patton, Jude Kirk , Sheila

Benjamin, a gerontologist and endocrinologist, had become interested in the field of treating transsexuals—those who have an overwhelming sense that their gender is different from which they are known. Benjamin, known by clients for his kindness and understanding, was one of the first to work with transsexuals, and he treated more than fifteen hundred individuals in his career. His groundbreaking book, The Transsexual Phenomenon, Transsexual Phenomenon, The (Benjamin) was published in 1966. Benjamin, an advocate of the use of scientific method, also challenged those working with transsexuals to use dispassionate and compassionate listening rather than treatment based on emotional biases: “Our emotions are the very essence of life, and they are indeed the source of all that makes life worth living. But for science and logic, they are bad companions.”

Prior to the emergence of HBIGDA, there was little in the way of a cohesive movement for the treatment of what had been considered gender identity “problems.” From 1965 to 1967, clinics had been started at Johns Hopkins University, the University of Minnesota, and the University of California, Los Angeles. These clinics were initially supported by some financial aid from philanthropist Reed Erickson Erickson, Reed (1917-1992), a female-to-male transsexual.

Gradually, treatment options were discussed at annual, international symposiums. In 1978, about forty centers in the Western world performed gender reassignment surgeries. As the United States grew more conservative, however, these clinics began to come under fire, and many transsexuals themselves felt that the clinics did not understand them.

during this time doctors at a symposium devised a specialty group to form the HBIGDA. Their aim was to plan how professionals could best help those seeking assistance with what the medical profession calls “gender dysphoria.” In 1979, HBIGDA issued its first version of Standards of Care for Gender Identity Disorders (SOC), an ongoing working document that service providers can use as a guide to care.

The SOC has been updated and has gone through various versions over the years. While not all clients agree with the SOC, and HBIGDA has no enforcement power with providers, the document does offer a benchmark. Client groups frequently lobby HBIGDA with their concerns about consumer issues and problems with care. In 1997, the first community members, Sheila Kirk (a transgender surgeon) and Jude Patton (a transsexual), joined the board of HBIGDA. In 2000, the group devised ethics guidelines for providers.

HBIGDA publishes The International Journal of Transgenderism. International Journal of Transgenderism, The Transgenderism, The International Journal of Professionals in all areas contribute to the journal, which contains topics touching on psychiatry, endocrinology, surgery, psychology, sexology, counseling, sociology, and the law. Association members meet at biennial conferences.

The evolving mission of HBIGDA kept the basic theme of its founding, but it has become more knowledgeable in subsequent years. Many of the association’s efforts still focus on health issues, such as promoting sexual health, transgender medicine and research, sexually transmitted diseases, training for allied health professionals, and optimal access to health care.

Increasingly, the association’s role has become more social, addressing issues such as intersex identity and ethics for practitioners, as well as promoting sound and ethical research, fighting stigma and discrimination, and enhancing social tolerance for gender diversity. Importantly, HBIGDA began to tackle issues of changing laws, social policies, and religious views. HBIGDA looks to other cultures for helpful clues, and it has fostered a climate for professionals where old methods pass on and new ones emerge.

In part because of the work of HBIGDA, transsexuals have more options today. In the realm of language Transgender;as a term[term] the term “transgender,” which also is used by the association, encompasses gender’s complexity and does not imply a “disorder,” as is often the case with terms such as “gender dysphoria” Gender dysphoria;as a term[term] or “gender dysphoric.” Although “transgender” has been embraced as a term of self-identification by many individuals, especially those who live ambiguously gendered lives, others find the term problematic as a sort of catch-all category that denies the specific experiences of those who, to take one example, reassign their gender through surgical means.

Significance

HBIGDA has played a large role in the care of transsexuals, and it’s research in the field has been used for fighting for legal rights. Its continuously updated protocols for care have become the standard for therapy; there now are time limits for each of the steps in diagnosis and therapy. The rules help to guide a correct choice for surgery and hormone treatments by excluding other diagnosis types, such as homosexuality, psychosis, personality disorders, brain lesion, and transvestitism.

HBIGDA and its conferences have paved the way for international, cross-disciplinary interaction regarding research and services for the welfare of transsexuals. The association was responsible in part for a major change in the psychiatric guidebook, Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (American Psychiatric Association) (DSM), which added “gender identity disorder” as a diagnosis in 1980. Harry Benjamin International Gender Dysphoria Association Gender Dysphoria Association, Harry Benjamin International Health and medicine;and gender identity[gender identity]

Further Reading
  • citation-type="booksimple"

    xlink:type="simple">Benjamin, Harry. The Transsexual Phenomenon. New York: Julian Press, 1966. Available at http: //www.symposion.com/ijt/benjamin/.
  • citation-type="booksimple"

    xlink:type="simple">Gilbert, Michael, ed. International Journal of Transgenderism 4, no. 3 (July/September, 2000). Special issue, “What Is Transgender?” http://www.symposion.com/ijt/index.htm.
  • citation-type="booksimple"

    xlink:type="simple">Harry Benjamin International Gender Dysphoria Association. http://www.hbigda.org/.
  • citation-type="booksimple"

    xlink:type="simple">Lev, Arlene Istar. Transgender Emergence: Therapeutic Guidelines for Working with Gender-Variant People and Their Families. New York: Haworth Clinical Practice Press, 2004.
  • citation-type="booksimple"

    xlink:type="simple">Meyerowitz, Joanne. How Sex Changed: A History of Transsexuality in the United States. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 2002.
  • citation-type="booksimple"

    xlink:type="simple">Standards of Care for Gender Identity Disorders, Version Six. 2001. http://www.hbigda.org/soc.cfm.

January-June, 1886: Two-Spirit American Indian Visits Washington, D.C.

September 24, 1951: George Jorgensen Becomes Christine Jorgensen

November 21, 1966: First Gender Identity Clinic Opens and Provides Gender Reassignment Surgery

1993: Intersex Society of North America Is Founded

1998: Transgender Scholarship Proliferates

March, 2003-December, 2004: Transsexuals Protest Academic Exploitation

Categories: History Content