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Who was Dr. Harry Benjamin?

Posted on June 20, 2019 at 2:20 PM

Harry Benjamin, MD was a pioneering transgender researcher in the mid-20th century. He was the first to understand the true nature of what it means to be transgender. Dr. Benjamin is considered a hero by many in the field, and by many transgender people. He worked tirelessly to shed light on the condition and to define effective treatments. His work has been carried on by hundreds of other medical and mental health professionals since his death.


The international medical association that deals with transgender issues was once known as the Harry Benjamin International Gender Dysphoria Association, but later changed its name to the World Professional Association for Transgender Health. ( WPATH is officially recogized by the American Medical Association and therefore has excellent professional credibility.


On the internet, you may find older references to "Harry Benjamin Syndrome" and the HBS Fact Sheet and HBS Standard of Care. None of these are officially sanctioned. All were created by a group of older transgender men and women who wanted to end the use of mental health designations (gender dysyphoria) and substitute a purely medical diagnosis using the term Harry Benjamin Syndrome, treating it essentially as a medical birth defect.


While the effort is laudable and has the support of many in the trans community, it has little support from WPATH. That's not to say that WPATH's own Standard of Care (SOC) doesn't have a lot in common with the proposed HBS Standard of Care. The general trend is toward the HBS group's ideal, but  the mental health and medical communities are slow to change. Still, you will find a few older transgender people who prefer the term Harry Benjamin Syndrome (or HBS) simply because it lacks the mental health stigma associated with Gender Dysphoria.

Categories: Transgender Topics

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