In an interview with WCQS, Tami Fitzgerald, Executive Director of the North Carolina Values Coalition, said opposition to House Bill 2 is the result of a smear campaign perpetrated by LGBT "bullies." She took direct aim at the national gay rights group Human Rights Campaign and the state group Equality North Carolina, claiming the groups are misleading companies and threatening them if they don't come out against the bill. She says the law is a common sense protection against men going into women's restrooms and locker rooms. When asked whether she was open to any amendments of the law, her response was "none whatsoever" and said the law will not be repealed. Our interview was conducted Tuesday, before Governor Pat McCrory announced an executive order calling for a portion of the law to be changed. That portion prevents people from suing over discrimination in state court. On that point, Fitzgerald said people still had remedies.
WCQS wanted clarity on one particular claim from Fitzgerald, that people struggling with their gender identity were suffering from mental illness. She said that was how the American Psychiatric Association framed it. So we called Jack Drescher, a psychiatrist with the APA who was a member of APA's DSM-5 workgroup. DSM-5 is the latest compiling of mental illnesses. It was last updated in 2013. His full comments are below.
Taken directly from the American Psychiatric Association's website to a question "Is Being Transgender a Mental Disorder?":
A psychological state is considered a mental disorder only if it causes significant distress or disability. Many transgender people do not experience their gender as distressing or disabling, which implies that identifying as transgender does not constitute a mental disorder. For these individuals, the significant problem is finding affordable resources, such as counseling, hormone therapy, medical procedures and the social support necessary to freely express their gender identity and minimize discrimination. Many other obstacles may lead to distress, including a lack of acceptance within society, direct or indirect experiences with discrimination, or assault. These experiences may lead many transgender people to suffer with anxiety, depression or related disorders at higher rates than nontransgender persons.
According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), people who experience intense, persistent gender incongruence can be given the diagnosis of "gender dysphoria." Some contend that the diagnosis inappropriately pathologizes gender noncongruence and should be eliminated. Others argue that it is essential to retain the diagnosis to ensure access to care. The International Classification of Diseases (ICD) is under revision and there may be changes to its current classification of intense persistent gender incongruence as "gender identity disorder."
House Bill 2 was passed in a one-day special session and signed into law by Governor Pat McCrory the same day. Lawmakers were acting to overturn a Charlotte non-discrimination ordinance that, among other things, would have allowed transgender people to use public restrooms and locker rooms corresponding with their gender identity. Critics of the Charlotte ordinance said it would open the door to sexual predators and endanger women and children. But HB2 went beyond overturning Charlotte's ordinance, establishing a statewide non-discrimination policy that did not include sexual orientation or gender identity, and preventing cities and towns from creating those protections. It also prevents cities and towns from adopting wages higher than the minimum wage, and prevents people from suing over discrimination in state court.