The Instigator
Pro (for)
The Contender
Con (against)

Transgenderism is a mental illness

Do you like this debate?NoYes+1
Add this debate to Google Add this debate to Delicious Add this debate to FaceBook Add this debate to Digg  
Debate Round Forfeited
chrisl3 has forfeited round #4.
Our system has not yet updated this debate. Please check back in a few minutes for more options.
Time Remaining
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 3/3/2017 Category: Health
Updated: 3 years ago Status: Debating Period
Viewed: 1,789 times Debate No: 100540
Debate Rounds (5)
Comments (2)
Votes (0)




Transgenderism is a topic not touched by alot of people because you are seen as unfeeling if you disagree. Transgenderism is a mental illness and our willingness to not tackle this conversation is hurting so many people out there that are being told that it is OK to mutilate their bodies.



My framework will revolve around the notion that transgenderism is not the same as gender dysphoria, which is an actual mental illness that can be diagnosed in transgender people. First, let's define transgenderism.

Transgenderism - A state or condition in which a person's identity does not conform unambiguously to conventional ideas of male or female gender [1].

Now, let's contrast this with gender dysphoria.

Gender Dysphoria

According to the DSM-5, Gender Dysphoria is “a general descriptive term [that] refers to an individual's affective/cognitive discontent with the assigned gender” and “the distress that may accompany the incongruence between one’s experienced or expressed gender and one's assigned gender” [2, pg. 451]. It isn't necessarily the identity that is the diagnosis, but the distress.

To further support this, there are two main diagnostic features for both children and adults; the person must have an incongruence between expressed gender and assigned gender, and they must have significant distress that impairs social, occupational, or educational functioning [2, pg. 452-453]. If no distress is present, the diagnosis can't be made.

The American Psychiatric Association, who published the DSM-5, states that “gender nonconformity is not in itself a mental disorder. The critical element of gender dysphoria is the presence of clinically significant distress associated with the condition” [3].

To further illustrate the aspect of distress, Gender Dysphoria has symptoms such as anxiety, depression, social isolation, and a poor self-esteem [2, pg. 456 - 457]. In addition, causes of Gender Dysphoria include being stigmatized for their identity and discontent with it [2, pg. 454 - 456].

“Many transgender people do not experience their gender as distressing or disabling, which implies that identifying as transgender does not constitute a mental disorder. For these individuals, the significant problem is finding affordable resources, such as counseling, hormone therapy, medical procedures and the social support necessary to freely express their gender identity and minimize discrimination” [4].


Transgenderism is simply an umbrella term of those who don't identify as the gender they were born as [4]. That doesn't necessarily mean they will have have Gender Dysphoria, or even that all transgender people have a mental disorder.


[2] Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders: DSM-5 by American Psychiatric Association.

Debate Round No. 1


So I just want to put out there that I have great sympathy for anyone who suffers from this condition. I think there has been an idea that gender is not connected to sex. This is a position of which I highly object to. It has very strong cultural ramifications on our society and also it is normalizing the idea that there is no biological difference between a man and a woman. And there is. No matter how much hormonal treatment, surgery, or counseling you undergo your biology will never change. Your genetics do not change. But I want to start off with asking a few questions and I am happy to answer any questions you have for me.

1. The national suicide rate is 4.6 percent. The suicide rate in the transgender community is 41 percent. What is the cause for this spike?

2. Should you be allowed to do hormonal treatment and sex change surgery for children like we just saw in Australia where a 4 year old had a sex change operation? When a vast percentage of children who are confused about their "gender identity" grow out of it before they turn 18.

3. Considering there is no evidence that the suicide rate decreases after the surgery or when people refer to them as the sex they claim isn't there a strong case to be made that there is a strong correlation between transgender ism and suicidality?


Thank you, Con. Here are my rebuttals of his arguments.


Con argues that gender is connected to sex and that a sex change will not change your biology, but this is irrelevant to the resolution he set up. This can easily be thrown out because of this. Despite this, I would like to address the statements he made here.

First, let's examine the difference between sex and gender. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), "[g]ender refers to the socially constructed characteristics of women and men – such as norms, roles and relationships of and between groups of women and men" [1]. Sex is biological and it is what you are born as (male, female, and intersex). There is one major difference between these two: gender is socially constructed, but sex is not. Gender is connected to sex in the sense that one's gender identity typically lined up with their biological sex, but biology doesn't completely control both. There are biological links to gender, but that relates to transgender people having a similar brain structure to their gender identity [2], proving that transgenderism isn't a mental illness.

I will give my opponent one thing: sex changes will not change your biology. However, that isn't the reason most transgender people get a sex change. Most do it feel comfortable with their body. It is why transgender people take medicines to induce the production of more estrogen or testosterone, why they get plastic surgery to "pass" as their gender, and why they choose to modify their genitals to correspond with the opposite biological sex. Yes, the biological sex they were born as will never change, but that doesn't mean that transgender women aren't women or transgender men aren't men.


I. Suicide Rate

My opponent states that the national suicide rate of transgender people is very high. He doesn't use any citations and ignores the causes of these rates, but I digress. He asks for the causes, and I will gladly show them.

The causes of transgender suicide rates are not due to their identity, but to outside factors like sexual assault, physical abuse, harassment in school, and job loss [3]. All of these are most due to discrimination against transgender people.

"Those who expressed a transgender identity or gender non-conformity while in grades K-12 reported alarming rates of harassment (78%), physical assault (35%)and sexual violence (12%); harassment was so severe that it led almost one-sixth (15%) to leave a school in K-12 settings or in higher education" [4].

II. Hormonal Treatment for Children

I must ask my opponent one thing: how does this relate to the resolution? Where are the citations? He show no sources to prove the instance of the child in Australia or the "fact" that children grow out of their gender identity. I would like to see the sources before addressing this point.

III. No Evidence of Decreased Suicide After Transition

This is yet another case of my opponent providing no evidence. However, I do want to address this because I think it advances my case.

Firstly, my opponent fails to understand that correlation does not equal causation. Just because suicide rates may not decrease after a sex change (which he hasn't proven) doesn't mean that it is a result of being transgender. The statistics I presented earlier show that transgender people are often victims of harassment, assault, and violence. All of these are proven to cause psychological distress. Can't these lead to suicide? What if they have a mental illness (depression, bipolar disorder, etc.)? That can result in suicide. No one knows the exact inner-workings of another person's mind.

Say one does face these issues shown in the statistics. These are not resolved with a sex change. Memories of possible sexual violence, bullying, and assault will not disappear or change because of surgeries or hormone therapies.


Debate Round No. 2


Thank you con. Considering you are Con and I am pro at least that is how my computer reads but this is my first debate. This is my first debate, so I was not aware that I needed to provide sources to pretty easy to find statistics so I will from this point forward.

The first thing I would like to point out is about your first source. WHO while it does do great work through the UN it is highly politicized and very left leaning. I will provide a citation to an article from NBC on their reporting about how alot of their actions come from a response from the governments first. So I am quite hesitant to take them as a reliable source on the topic of how gender is a social construct.

I will first respond to the suicide part of your question. The suicide rate for transgender men is 46% and women is 42%. I will provide citation at the bottom for those specific numbers. But I would like to discuss the reasoning you gave for their suicide rate being so high. That it is discrimination. I find this reason to be highly highly suspect. I decided to try and find a comparable suicide rate for any group of people in history that went through any kind of discrimination. I started with African Americans living under Jim Crow, then I checked for African Americans during slavery, and then after I checked Palestinians living under occupation by Israel. None were even close. So I decided to check the big one. Jews living in concentration camps in Germany. That is the only suicide rate that is even close to comparable. I will provide citation at the bottom about the Jews suicide rates. Are you really trying to equate the discrimination that Transgender people face in America to the treatment that Jews got in the concentration camps in Germany.

Now lets tackle the idea that discrimination causes increases in suicide. I think you would be hard pressed to find anyone that agrees that white people are discriminated against more than black people. I think that is something no matter where you stand on this issue we can agree on. I will put my citation at the bottom for these next statistics. per 100,000 white suicide rate is more than double the black suicide rate in America. Suicide has never been proven statistically to be correlated with discrimination.

We can tackle your response to question 2 now. You say I didn't provide evidence to the story of the 4 year old who had the sex change in Australia. You are kind of nit picking here. It was a widely reported on story and a simple google search will find you 100 articles on it. Now you are correct I did not provide any data resolving the idea that transgender kids grow out of it by adulthood. So my citation will also be at the bottom. The percentage of kids that grow out of this condition is 60-90% depending on the study. There are a lot of studies listed in the article. This relates to the second part of this debate about mutilation of people's bodies. Not only do I find it highly disturbing that you can do this as an adult. I find it deplorable that people want to legislate this and make it possible for children, so it is connected to a resolution as I already find it a problem.

Now the third question. I will provide my source and it is ironic which source I used to prove my case. The study this news outlet did their reporting on shows that transition does nothing to the suicide rate. It is The Guardian. That is as left wing of a news source as you can get in the UK.

Yes I do not deny that transgender people face discrimination in this country. But the idea that discrimination is the reason their suicide rate goes from 4.6 percent (national average) to 42 percent is not backed by any science that you can point to.

Just wanted to say I do appreciate this debate as it is my first one, and normally from my experience outside of you are instantly called a bigot for bringing this up. Your move.



First, I would like to address my opponent's criticism of my source, the World Health Organization. He says that they are a left-leaning organization. However, left-leaning doesn't necessarily mean left-biased. Even my opponent admits to using a left-leaning new source, The Guardian, in his own arguments. I don't see why this is relevant to his case, but I digress.

Next, my opponent claims that while transgender people are discriminated against in this country, that my point isn't backed by science. Now, I ask, did you see the source I used to back up my findings?

"A staggering 41% of respondents reported attempting suicide compared to 1.6% of the general population, with rates rising for those who lost a job due to bias (55%), were harassed/bullied in school (51%), had low household income, or were the victim of physical assault (61%) or sexual assault (64%)" [1]

This report is based on findings from over 6,000 transgender and gender non-conforming individuals. These statistics prove that discrimination indeed does have a hand in transgender suicide rates.

Then, my opponent challenges my statement that discrimination causes in transgender people by showing statistical differences between the suicide rates of white and black people in America. However, this could be a result of black people taking only 12.2% of the American population, while white people make up 63.7% of the American population [2]. Also, this is completely irrelevant to the topic. In the statistics I have shown for transgender people, there is a correlation between discrimination and suicide [1].

Next, I shall address my opponent's second question. However, now that I have access to the actual source, the question seems very misleading. Dr. Cantor contrasts autogynephilia, the sexual arousal to the image of being female, with transgenderism. He evens shows the difference between the two. My opponent fails to understand one thing, though: not all trans women are motivated by "sexual desire to be a woman" [3].

Also, I would like to address the next part of the second question. I do cede to this point. I don't agree with children being allowed to medically transition, but I also don't see how this relates to the resolution of transgenderism being a mental illness.

Must I address this point? I already showed my rebuttal in the last round and they make no attempt to refute it.


Debate Round No. 3
This round has not been posted yet.
This round has not been posted yet.
Debate Round No. 4
This round has not been posted yet.
This round has not been posted yet.
Debate Round No. 5
2 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Posted by TheGirlWithNoIdentity 3 years ago
I love when people use the fact that lgbt people are more likely to be depressed and/or suicidal as "evidence" that you shouldn't be gay/trans etc instead of using it to tell people not to be homophobic jerks.
Posted by RC-9282 3 years ago
Oh, how much I laughed at "left leaning doesn't necessarily mean left biased". Comedy gold here.
This debate has 2 more rounds before the voting begins. If you want to receive email updates for this debate, click the Add to My Favorites link at the top of the page.

By using this site, you agree to our Privacy Policy and our Terms of Use.