When Matthew Moore received his medical evaluation, after undergoing a physical examination in the Southern California town of Manhattan Beach, the news was not good.
He was diagnosed with a “chronic disease” that almost certainly wasn’t going to go away anytime soon. The code for his “ailment,” included on medical forms by his doctor, was 302.0 Homosexual Behavior.
Moore is, indeed, gay. Openly gay. And, while he has no problem with people knowing he is gay, it is not an “affliction” that should be showing up on medical records. His doctor did not agree. Moore told NBC Southern California that she said treatment of homosexuality was still open for debate and that the orientation was still “thought of as a disease.” NBC did not identify the doctor.
Moore protested to the Torrance Memorial Physician Network. He received their written assurance that they do not regard homosexuality as a disease or chronic condition and do not approve of using Code 302.0 as a diagnosis. Moore said he wasn’t going to out the doctor, to preserve her reputation, but decided to go public with the story to spare others.
The 302.0 code is a reference to the International Classification of Diseases (ICD), where homosexuality was listed as a mental illness on the ICD until 1990. Code 302.0 is now listed as “Ego-dystonic sexual orientation” —a reference to people who want to change their gender identities or sexual orientation because of a psychological or behavioral disorder. It is listed with other “302 Sexual and gender identity disorders” like “zoophilia” (302.1), “pedophilia” (302.2), “transvestic fetishism” (302.3), “exhibitionism” (302.4) and “trans-sexualism” (302.5).
But at least as late as 1998, some medical software was still identifying 302.0 as “homosexual” and explaining that the diagnosis applies to those who have “exclusive or predominant sexual attraction for persons of the same sex with or without physical relationship.” Medical workers were instructed to “code homosexuality here whether or not it is considered as a mental disorder.” That included “Lesbianism” but excluded “homosexual paedophilia (302.2).”
The American Psychological Association wrestled mightily (pdf) with the issue of homosexuality being defined as a disorder in 1973. The association determined that it failed to meet the two primary standards of a disorder: “subjective distress or impairment in social functioning.” That just left this: “The only way that homosexuality could be considered a psychiatric disorder would be the criteria of failure to function heterosexually, which is considered optimal in our society and by many members of our profession.”
But, then, they would have to classify as psychiatric disorders: “celibacy (failure to function optimally sexually), revolutionary behavior (irrational defiance of social norms), religious fanaticism (dogmatic and rigid adherence to religious doctrine), racism (irrational hatred of certain groups), vegetarianism (unnatural avoidance of carnivorous behavior) and male chauvinism (irrational belief in the inferiority of women).”
They didn’t want to get that crazy. So gays are off the hook.
The physician network apologized to Moore and returned his $30 copay.