In recent years, transgender people have increasingly been willing to identify themselves openly. Public awareness of transgender issues has increased dramatically, in part because of an increasing number of books, motion pictures and television programs featuring transgender characters and addressing transgender issues. As a result, not only transgender people themselves but also their families and friends, employers, schools and government agencies are increasingly turning to psychologists for help in addressing these issues on individual and community levels. At the same time, changes in service delivery systems related to transgender issues have resulted in transsexuals and other people with gender identity concerns more frequently turning to community mental health professionals for assessment and treatment.
Consequently, it has become increasingly likely that psychologists will encounter people needing assistance with gender identity concerns. This trend underscores the need for psychologists to acquire greater knowledge and competence in addressing transgender issues.
In February 2005, the Council of Representatives of the American Psychological Association (APA) authorized the appointment of a Task Force on Gender Identity and Gender Variance. The task force was charged with the following:
Review extant APA policies regarding these issues and affected populations and recommend any indicated changes.
Develop recommendations for education, training, and further research into these topics.
Propose how APA can best meet the needs of psychologists and students who identify as transgender or gender variant.
Recommend appropriate collaboration with other professional organizations concerning these issues.