Leading American Psychoanalytic Association Officially Apologizes for Labeling Gay & Transgender Identities as Mental Illnesses

The most influential psychoanalysts group in America is apologizing for policies it reversed decades ago that it says “pathologized homosexuality and transgender identities.”

“We all know that hearing the words ‘we are sorry’ is important to healing past trauma,” Lee Jaffe, president of the American Psychoanalytic Association (APsaA), said in a news release.

“For many years we continued to view homosexuality as an illness, and we denied opportunities for learning in our training programs to LGBTQ professionals unless they concealed their sexuality,” Jaffe said Friday at the organization’s annual meeting in San Diego.

“Our views led to discrimination both internally and in society at large.

“In the past several decades, APsaA has been advocating for LGBTQ equality,” he added in the statement.

It may be the first U.S. medical or mental health organization to issue such an apology. Although psychiatrists declassified homosexuality as a disorder in 1973 and psychoanalysts came around nearly 20 years later, the APsaA say sit is unaware of any related professional group that had apologized.

“It is long past time to recognize and apologize for our role in the discrimination and trauma caused by our profession and say, ‘We are sorry,’” said a statement by Dr. Lee Jaffe, president of APsaA. The group uses that abbreviation to distinguish it from the American Psychiatric Association (APA).

Jaffe announced the apology on Friday at the opening session of the group’s 109th annual meeting in San Diego, drawing a standing ovation from about 200 people present, witnesses said.Jaffe said his group has long been active in promoting LGBTQ rights but had yet to put its contrition into words.

“It’s hard to admit that one has been so wrong,” Jaffe said.

APsaA did not change its position until 1991 when, under threat of an anti-discrimination lawsuit, it allowed the training of gay and lesbian psychoanalysts, Drescher said.

APsaA went on to become an early supporter of same-sex marriage and opponent of “conversion therapy” aimed at changing a person’s sexual orientation.

In 2012, psychiatrist Dr. Robert Spitzer on his own apologized for authoring an influential study 11 years earlierthat supported reparative therapy to “cure” homosexuality.

Today, APsaA and other professional organizations view beinggay as a normal variant of human sexuality, but until now haveyet to express how wrong they were before, Drescher said.

“They did the work of apologizing but they did not say thewords,” Drescher said. “If the police commissioner of New YorkCity could do it, why couldn’t we do something similar?”

“While APsaA is now proud to be advocating for sexual and gender diversity, we all know that hearing the words ‘we are sorry’ is important to healing past trauma,” said Jaffe.

For more information see the recent article on Psychology Today.

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