Dear WPATH Members,
One of Dr. Benjamin's patients and
a good friend of mine recently expressed her thoughts
about the name issue in a message from the heart to me.
I believe this viewpoint has not yet been expressed and
with her permission I am sharing it with you.
From: "Lynn Conway"
To: "Femke Olyslager"
Sent: Thursday, February 07, 2008
Subject: Re: Proposed Association
This is quite a development regarding WPATH.
The name change has been a real step forward, by
shifting attention away from "GID" as a diagnosis and
pathology and focusing instead on long-term outcomes of
trans lives. The international trans community has seen
this as a very welcome development indeed.
OTOH, the way it was implemented is a bit
problematic, opening the door for this struggle between
the e! merging new guard and "old guard" traditionalists
who resent the direction history is taking and the
changes that must come to the organization as a result.
This is bound to be a bitter battle - with the old
guard having questions of procedure on their side and
the new guard having the far better and more meaningful
Regarding Harry Benjamin:
As you know, I was his patient in the 1960's and owe
my life to him. I completed my transition in 1968 and
remained in close contact with him on into the 70's. We
were very good friends, and I feel compelled to speak on
his behalf now.
Dr. Benjamin's pioneering contributions and wonderful
spirit could and should be remembered in many other ways
than via the name of this association. Sadly, many trans
people have been so harmed under the old-versions of the
SOC that Dr. Benjamin's legacy has actually been stained
by the association. Many trans people who aren't aware
of his pioneering work actually defame him on account of
his name being attac hed to the association. This is a
terrible shame, because Dr. Benjamin was very supportive
of gender transitioners, and never approached things in
the manner of the "old HBIGDA".
Furthermore, it was the old guard in HBIGDA and their
psychiatric cronies who turned things away from the
direction Dr. Benjamin advocated - and into the
direction of pathologizing trans people and controlling
our lives. And now they say they want to honor Dr.
Benjamin? I knew Dr. Benjamin extremely well. He'd turn
in his grave if he knew what they'd done to "honor him"
via HBIGDA - and how they're now trying to exploit his
good name to "resurrect GID".
Let's hope that wisdom prevails, and that the new
directions and new name of the association continue on.
Ms. Lynn Conway
Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, Emerita
University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan 48109
National Academy of Engineering
It goes beyond saying that reversing the name change
would be a catastrophe, from the point of view of the
Professor in Electrical Engineering and Applied
Supporting Member WPATH
Assistant Secretary General URSI
Department of Informationtechnology (INTEC)
B-9000 Ghent, Belgium