Same sex orientation is a topic around which much scientific literature coheres and public opinion (and debate) becomes heated. Because the area of sex and gender is highly controversial, it has led over the years to a proliferation of terms which, in the course of time, have been adapted to the scientific thinking of the day which has in its turn been informed by a deeper understanding of the phenomenon itself and changing mores regarding human rights standards. As we shall see, by analyzing five editions of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DMS) published between 1952 and 2013 and edited by the American Psychiatric Association (APA), specialized language around gender and sexual orientation over the last 60 years has been submitted to enormous changes which have in turn called upon the efforts of specialists to shape, create and build up a suitable terminology to define sexual orientation or, perhaps more precisely, to adjust and tinker with our definitions of same sex orientation. The aim of this work is both to explore the way scientific discourse contributed to the stigmatization of same sex orientation and to highlight operations of terminological normalization which took place over the last decades. Noticeably, in the first DSM (1952) homosexuality is classified as a severe disorder which affects individuals with sociopathic personality disturbances (whose diagnosis is sexual deviation). Homosexuality is grouped with severe sexual illnesses like pedophilia and necrophilia. It took many years and many editions of the DSM to have it deleted as a disorder and it was only in 1990 that the World Health Organization deleted homosexuality from the list of disorders entirely. In the light of this, the paper intends to emphasize the role of scientific discourse in allowing or disallowing stigma. Specialized language has an impact on the way we perceive the world which cannot be underestimated. By analyzing the changing mores of the last century and how they affected scientific discourse, this paper hopes to peel back what lies beneath the changing nature of language and how it is both a generator and reflector of change in society itself.
Antonucci, B. (2018). Gender e terminologia: “It is time to make history”. In Paola Faini (a cura di), TERMINOLOGIA, LINGUAGGI SPECIALISTICI, TRADUZIONE Prospettive teoriche e pratiche (pp. 33-45). Trento : Tangram Edizioni Scientifiche.