Kelley Winters and transgender people

Kelley Winters (born April 18, 1957) is an American engineer and transgender rights activist. Winters has been an important figure in fighting against the pathologization of sex and gender minorities.

Background

Winters earned a bachelor’s degree from University of Illinois in 1979, then attended Eastern Illinois University and got married in 1980. She was later divorced after having two sons. Winters earned a PhD in computer engineering from University of Idaho in 1993.

In an interesting coincidence, her work built on the pioneering technology by Lynn Conway. Winters has since retired and focuses on activism.

Activism

Following her gender transition, Winters began working toward improving how trans people were depicted in clinical literature. Beginning in 2001, she began advocating for changes in the diagnosis “gender identity disorder” (GID) via her organization GID Reform Advocates.

Below is her 2009 presentation at the International Foundation for Gender Education (IFGE): Top Ten Problems with the GID Diagnosis. Part of “Disordered” No More: Challenging Transphobia in Psychology, Academia and Society., a panel with Joelle Ruby Ryan, Julia Serano, and Winters.

“This is my personal list of the most egregious problems with the current Gender Identity Disorder diagnosis. While far from comprehensive, it is perhaps a starting point for dialogue about how harm reduction of gender nomenclature might be possible in the DSMV. 

  1. Focus of pathology on nonconformity to assigned birth sex in disregard to the definition of mental disorder, which comprises distress and impairment.
  2. Stigma of mental illness upon emotions and expressions that are ordinary or even exemplary for nontransgender children, adolescents and adults.
  3. Lacks clarity on gender dysphoria, defined here as clinically significant distress with physical sex characteristics or ascribed gender role.
  4. Contradicts transition and access to hormonal and surgical treatments, which are well proven to relieve distress of gender dysphoria.
  5. Encourages gender-conversion therapies, intended to change or shame one’s gender identity or expression.
  6. Misleading title of “Gender Identity Disorder,” suggesting that gender identity is itself disordered or deficient.
  7. Maligning terminology, including “autogynephilia,” which disrespects transitioned individuals with inappropriate pronouns and labels.
  8. False positive diagnosis of those who are no longer gender dysphoric after transition and of gender nonconforming children who were never gender dysphoric.
  9. Conflation of impairment caused by prejudice with distress intrinsic to gender dysphoria.
  10. Placement in the class of sexual disorders.”

Publications

Winters, Kelley (2009). Top Ten Problems with the GID DIagnosis. (PDF)

Winters, Kelley (2008). Gender Madness in American Psychiatry: Essays From The Struggle for Dignity (2008) BookSurge ISBN-13: 978-1439223888

Resources

GID Reform Advocates (gidreform.org) [archive]

  • Active 2001–2014

GID Reform Weblog (gidreform.wordpress.com) [archive]

  • Active 2008–2017

Lynn Conway (lynnconway.com)