Some thoughts regarding the WPATH name change:


by Lynn Conway


During recent months, the old guard in HBIGDA mounted an attack on the new leadership of WPATH regarding the recent change in the associationís name. This reached a climax on February 6, 2008 when Richard Green threatened WPATH with a lawsuit if they didnít stop the balloting to confirm the change of name.


As with past threats of lawsuits (such as those against transpeople by Zucker et al at CAMH), many saw Green's actions as intimidation and worse, and it seems unlikely he'll get his way by making such threats.


Meantime, WPATH's e-mail server is alive with messages about this issue - including a message Femke Olyslager forwarded to members from me, regarding how Dr. Benjamin might have reacted to these events (as follows):




WPATH Website   |   Member Login
February 8, 2008  
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 Name Change

Dear Femke,

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 name.

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.

Best wishes,


Ms. Lynn Conway

Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, Emerita

3640 CSE Building
University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan 48109

Member, National Academy of Engineering

It goes beyond saying that reversing the name change would  be a catastrophe, from the point of view of the trans community.

Best wishes,


Professor in Electrical Engineering and Applied Physics
Supporting Member WPATH
Assistant Secretary General URSI
Electromagnetics Group
Department of Informationtechnology (INTEC)
Ghent University
Sint-Pietersnieuwstraat 41
B-9000 Ghent, Belgium






LynnConway.comTS InformationTrans News Updates > Lynn's e-mail of 2-08-08