A gay woman in Michigan was shocked to find her doctor had diagnosed her with “ego-dystonic lesbianism” at a routine physical check up.
Tatiana Arena-Villareal discovered the diagnosis, which associates being gay with mental illness, when she checked her records after a visit to her doctor in Troy, Detroit.
The outdated term was casually listed alongside her cervical cancer screening – despite the fact that it’s been removed from medical manuals for more than three decades.
“I went to my chart and I looked at my last year’s results and saw I was diagnosed with ego-dystonic lesbianism,” Arena-Villareal told FOX2 News. “It’s a discriminatory diagnosis, and that was deemed over 30 years ago.”
The so-called disorder is characterised by having a sexual orientation that is at odds with one’s idealised self-image, causing anxiety and a desire to change sexuality.
“[It means] either that I think that I am straight or trying to be a lesbian, or the opposite,” Arena-Villareal said, having researched the term herself.
The doctor never discussed the diagnosis with her, nor was her sexuality raised at any point during the appointment, which she attended with her wife and 6-month-old daughter.
The private practice run by Beaumont Health eventually reached out to her on Monday (5 April) after being questioned by local media.
Arena-Villareal received no explanation for why she was labelled with a disorder scrapped by the American Psychological Association in 1987, and says she was led to believe the diagnosis was no mistake.
“She said, ‘I can remove this if you want me to,’ and I said, ‘Of course I do. This is not something that exists anymore and it’s not something I want to follow me throughout my life.'”
She did get an apology, which she says she appreciated, but the experience highlights the ongoing discrimination LGBT+ people routinely face in healthcare settings.
“This just shows there is still a lot of work to do,” Arena-Villareal said.
“I don’t want this to happen to anybody else. I don’t want anybody to have a diagnosis in their chart that suggests they have a mental illness because of who they love.”
In a statement to FOX2, the practice said: “Beaumont embraces diversity and believes in treating every patient with dignity and respect, which includes providing healthcare that recognises all experiences and identities.
“This matter involves a private practice physician who is affiliated with Beaumont. The contents of the patient’s medical record, along with the substance of the conversation between physician and patient, are private.”