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Richard R. Pleak and transgender people

Richard Randall Pleak (born May 6, 1954) is an American psychiatrist. He is an international authority on gender identity and gender variance in children, adolescents, and adults. 


Pleak graduated from Wayne State University School of Medicine in 1980.

Pleak is a member and past chair of the Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Issues Committee of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP), Co-Chair on AACAP’s HIV Issues Committee, and a member of the Work Force on Gender Dysphoria of the American Psychiatric Association (APA). He is a member of the World Professional Association for Transgender Health (WPATH) and has led the Task Force on Childhood Diagnoses for WPATH. 

Pleak is an Associate Professor of Psychiatry and the Director of Education in Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at Hofstra North Shore-LIJ School of Medicine in New York. He has published primarily in the areas of gender identity, sexual orientation, sexual behavior, and psychopharmacology.  Pleak teaches at Hofstra and at the Sophie Davis School of Biomedical Sciences, CUNY. 

Comments on Osborne (2003)

Pleak responded to a 2003 article in Out magazine about gender identity and youth by Duncan Osborne. Below is his letter to the editor.

Crisis Over Identity Crisis

Duncan Osborne’s article “Identity Crisis” [April 2003], on the debate about psychiatric diagnosis of gender identity disorder, raised many interesting points.

However, Osborne failed to interview any of the very small number of us child and adolescent psychiatrists (who are also de facto adult psychiatrists) who regularly see, evaluate, and treat children, adolescents, and adults with gender issues. Of the four of us in the United States that I am aware of, we are all opposed to this diagnosis for children and feel it was inappropriate to lump the pre-1994 diagnosis of “gender identity disorder of childhood” together with the pre-1994 diagnosis of “transsexualism” into one diagnosis of “gender identity disorder.” Most transsexual adults prefer the older diagnostic term of “transsexualism” rather than “GID” as a less pathological sounding label.

I, for one, never use this diagnosis for children, especially in medical records or any communication with the child’s social institutions. While the diagnosis is needed by older adolescents and adults attempting to obtain coverage for hormones and surgery, I and my colleagues are advocating for the return (in the next Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) of the diagnostic term “transsexualism” or for a medicalized variant of this diagnosis for reimbursement purposes and for the removal of “GID” for children, An extensive discussion of these issues is found in the 1999 book Sissies and Tomboys: Gender Nonconformity and Homosexual Childhood, edited by Matthew Rottnek.

Richard R. Pleak, MD
Director, Sexual Identity Service
Long Island Jewish Medical Center
New Hyde Park, N.Y.


Pleak RR (2003). Crisis Over Identity Crisis [letter to the editor]. Out, June 2003, page 12.

Osborne D (2003). Voices – Identity Crisis. Out, April


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