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The APA Paraphilias Subworkgroup Agrees:
Kinky is NOT a Diagnosis

In the new proposals for the DSM-V, alternative sexual behavior has been depathologized. The American Psychiatric Association's Paraphilias Subworkgroup's DSM revisions acknowledge that you can be a fetishist, transvestite, sexual sadist or sexual masochist without having a mental disorder.

NCSF has worked very hard with its DSM Revision Project to make sure these changes take place, and will continue to strongly advocate for clear language of what exactly constitutes a mental disorder. Susan Wright liaisoned with the work group and supplied data that NCSF has gathered about the real-world discrimination and persecution that takes place against BDSM-fetish practitioners because of the DSM-IV-TR. The DSM Revision Petition was also extremely useful in generating comment from community members and mental health professionals urging that the current diagnoses be changed. 

Read the "Rationale" section under each diagnosis to see their thinking on the paraphilias. The work group makes it clear that "non-normative" sexual behavior is practiced by healthy people:

"The first broad change follows from our consensus that paraphilias are not ipso facto psychiatric disorders. We are proposing that the DSM-V make a distinction between paraphilias and paraphilic disorders. A paraphilia by itself would not automatically justify or require psychiatric intervention. A paraphilic disorder is a paraphilia that causes distress or impairment to the individual or harm to others. One would ascertain a paraphilia (according to the nature of the urges, fantasies, or behaviors) but diagnose a paraphilic disorder (on the basis of distress and impairment). In this conception, having a paraphilia would be a necessary but not a sufficient condition for having a paraphilic disorder."

"These revisions will affect everything-child custody, job discrimination battles, and even help change the way society views us," says Leigha Fleming, Chairperson and Director of Incident Response. "I think of all the people over the years who have had the DSM used as a tool of discrimination and punishment, and I'm proud of NCSF for continuing the fight to change it. This is the first step towards decriminalization of BDSM, which NCSF is pursuing with our Consent Counts project."

The Paraphilias Subworkgroup is now reconsidering what constitutes "clinically significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning" when determining a mental disorder. The DSM must make it clear that people do suffer distress and impairment because of the societal stigma against alternative sex, but that doesn't mean they are suffering distress that is generated internally.     

As part of the development process, the preliminary draft revisions to the current diagnostic criteria for psychiatric diagnoses are now available for public review and comment until April. Personal comments about discrimination and persecution are welcome additions to this commentary to continue to urge the work group to differentiate between sexual minorities and sex offenders. 

Just as Norway recently joined Sweden and Denmark in removing consensual paraphilias entirely, NCSF continues to urge the complete removal of these paraphilias from the DSM. However like the incremental removal of homosexuality (to egodystonic homosexuality and then finally taken out in 1987) this is an important step for the BDSM-leather-fetish community.

NCSF needs your support to continue important projects like the DSM Revision Project that directly impact peoples' lives. Please join NCSF to show solidarity! We do so much for very little money, and we need your help.

February 16, 2010

The National Coalition for Sexual Freedom is committed to creating a political, legal, and social environment in the United States that advances the equal rights of consenting adults who practice forms of alternative sexual and relationship expression. NCSF advances the rights and advocates for consenting adults in the SM-Leather-Fetish, swing, and polyamory communities. We pursue our vision through direct services, education, advocacy, and outreach in conjunction with our partner organizations to directly benefit these communities.

 

Office: (410) 539-4824 

Media: (917) 848-6544

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Published in DSM Articles

NCSF was asked by thge DSM Paraphilias subworkgroup to respond to their proposed changes to the DSM's consensual paraphilias.  This is our letter to the editor of the Archives of Sexual Behavior that was published on July 15, 2010. 

Depathologizing Consensual Sexual Sadism, Sexual Masochism, Transvestic Fetishism, and Fetishism

[Letter to the editor]

Archives of Sexual Behavior


Archives of Sexual Behavior
July 16, 2010
DOI: 10.1007/s10508-010-9651-y 
The final publication is available at here


Corresponding author:
Susan Wright
National Coalition for Sexual Freedom
410 Guilford Ave, #127
Baltimore, MD 21202
This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it


Depathologizing Consensual Sexual Sadism, Sexual Masochism, Transvestic Fetishism, and Fetishism

[Letter to the Editor]

         The DSM-V Paraphilias Subworkgroup's suggested revision to differentiate between paraphilias and Paraphilic Disorders appears to be a step forward in depathologizing unusual sexual interests. Paraphilia diagnoses are regularly misused in criminal and civil proceedings as an indication that individuals cannot control their behavior; these individuals turn for assistance to the National Coalition for Sexual Freedom (NCSF), a national advocacy organization that advances the rights of, and advocates for consenting adults in the BDSM-leather-fetish, swing, and polyamory communities. 

         One recent child custody case referred to NCSF illustrates the common misunderstanding that legal and social service professionals have with the DSM-IV-TR, and is the first documented reaction to the proposal to differentiate between paraphilias and Paraphilic Disorders. The children were removed in July 2009 while psychological evaluations were performed on the mother and the children, which concluded there was no mental illness.[1} However the case worker with the Department of Social Services Children's Division in the Midwestern state where this case occurred sent the following January 21, 2010 letter to the mother’s court appointed psychologist: (DSS, 2010):

         "With regards to [mother's] alternative lifestyle; can she separate this from her parenting? There has been some questions arise from other team members regarding her sexual sadism. These are as follows:

         "We were made aware at the last FST meeting that while all parties involved have seen the information provided regarding [mother's] blog and website, no action has been taken to determine how it affects the children or is factored into the stated case goal of reunification with [mother]. The following information is relevant:

A. Sexual Sadism is considered a form of paraphilia in accordance with the DSM-IV-TR.

B. [Mother] admitted in court on March 9, 2009 that she was a "domme" – slang for a female sexual sadist.

C. Sexual Sadism involves inflicting pain and suffering on another individual in order to achieve sexual arousal." …

         "Sexual sadism on the web has the following information: 'The essential feature of sexual sadism is a feeling of sexual excitement resulting from administering pain, suffering or humiliation on another person. In extreme cases, sexual sadism can lead to serious injury or death for the other person. According to the DSM these catastrophic results are more likely when the paraphilia is diagnosed as severe, and when it is associated with antisocial personality disorder.[2]  They may experience distressed or impaired functioning because of the sadistic behaviors or fantasies. This distress and impairment may be due to the fact that the partner is not consenting. The diagnosis of sexual sadism is complicated by several factors, beginning with the fact that most persons with the disorder do not voluntarily enter therapy.'"

         "[Mother] indicated she gave up this lifestyle in March. However the blog and stories that were found were posted to her website in May. There are concerns that she is still a moderator of the [BDSM] yahoo group. I have attached pages from her website in hopes that you can explore with [mother] her current involvement with this alternative lifestyle."

         The CPS letter concludes with the recommendation that: "Even though [mother] is complying with attendance in therapy, we feel the above issues need to be explored and addressed."

         At the final permanency hearing in February, 2010 the mother's lawyer submitted to the judge the proposed revisions for the DSM-V to separate the paraphilias from Paraphilic Disorders, resulting in a court determination to re-evaluate her entire case. The judge specifically chastised the Department of Social Services for not being aware of the proposed changes for the DSM-V. Based on the proposed revisions, in March the mother was awarded custody of three of the children, with the father retaining custody of one child in order to take advantage of his health care coverage.

         As this example shows, when individuals who practice BDSM are brought to the attention of authorities, they are regularly misdiagnosed with a mental disorder. In 2009, NCSF was asked for help by 132 people regarding child custody/divorce issues directly involving their alternative sexual practices (NCSF, 2009). The year before, a total of 157 individuals contacted NCSF for help with child custody/divorce issues (NCSF, 2008).  In total, almost 500 people each year request help from NCSF because of discrimination or persecution due to their alternative sexual practices.

         Therefore the implications of "ascertaining a paraphilia" and "diagnosing a paraphilic disorder" are critical to depathologizing consensual paraphilias. I am concerned that if sexual sadism receives its own diagnosis code separate from Sexual Sadism Disorder, social services and legal professions will continue to think that anyone who practices consensual sexual sadism (or sexual masochism, fetishism and transvestic fetishism) therefore has a mental disorder.

         The consensual paraphilias should be mentioned as the healthy comparison to a Paraphilic Disorder, much like various sexual behaviors are referred to in the proposed Hypersexual Disorder. Cybersex and masturbation don't have separate diagnosis codes in the DSM, and it is equally erroneous to assign separate codes for the paraphilias when they are not mental disorders or of clinical concern. For the same reason, the consensual paraphilias shouldn't be listed among the V-Codes.

         Separating sexual behaviors (paraphilias) from the mental disorders (Paraphilic Disorders) is the first step in depathologizing consensual alternative sex. The second step is defining what exactly constitutes clinically significant distress. NCSF often consults with individuals who suffer distress and impairment in their social and occupational lives (ie. interpersonal difficulties) because their desires conflict with current societal standards. These standards stem in a large part from the DSM itself: pathologizing unusual sexual interests has led to increased discrimination and discouraged individuals from seeking treatment for physical and mental health problems (Wright, 2008).

         A distinction must be made in the DSM-V between distress imposed by societal stigma, and distress that is generated internally. As seen in the above referenced child custody case, mental health professionals are not the only ones who consult the DSM. When attorneys, judges, and social workers read the diagnoses in the DSM, they see "distressed or impaired" as the determiner of mental illness. Without a comprehensible definition, they look at the individual who is on trial or in a child custody battle, and that individual certainly appears distressed. They even speculate that if the individual gave up their BDSM practices, then their life wouldn't be in disarray, so clearly they must be suffering a mental disorder because their sexual behaviors are obligatory or "obsessive" (DSS, 2010).

         Therefore the current list by which distress and impairment are diagnosed must be rejected: 1) are obligatory, 2) result in sexual dysfunction, 3) require participation of nonconsenting individuals, 4) lead to legal complications, or 5) interfere in social relationships. Legal complications and interpersonal difficulties are common consequences of the stigma and discrimination against BDSM practices. In the Second National Survey of Violence & Discrimination Against Sexual Minorities, a total of 1,146 (37.5%) of the respondents indicated that they had either been discriminated against or had experienced some form of harassment or violence (Wright, 2008). As a result, 60% of the 3,000 respondents are not "out" about their BDSM interests; the stress of being closeted and/or coming out promotes distress and impairment in these individuals, similar to that experienced by homosexuals.

         In addition, once a Paraphilic Disorder is diagnosed, can it ever be in remission? If so, what are the mechanisms for determining that? If the distress and impairment are resolved, does the individual go back to the ascertainment category? As of now, once a mental disorder is diagnosed, it appears to apply for the lifetime of the individual.

         Finally, it must be made clear that Paraphilic Disorders are extremely rare. In particular, the descriptive text for Sexual Sadism Disorder needs to clearly state that it is limited to forensic populations, and, as Krueger (2009) states, "virtually all of the published papers using DSM criteria for Sexual Sadism have been done on studies of forensic populations." This will help prevent the conflation of those who practice consensual paraphilias with those who have a Paraphilic Disorder.

 


[1] All names and locations have been removed to protect the identity of those involved.

[2] Bolded in original letter despite there being no evidence the mother has antisocial personality disorder.

 


References

Krueger, R.B. (2009). The DSM Diagnostic Criteria for Sexual Sadism. Archives of Sexual
     Behavior, published online 08 December, 2009.

Department of Social Services, Children's Division. January 21, 2010 letter.

National Coalition for Sexual Freedom (2009) (retrieved 5/7/10). 2009 Incident Response Report
     [Online]. Available
    
National Coalition for Sexual Freedom (2008) (retrieved 5/6/10). 2008 Incident Response Report
     [Online]. Available

Wright, S. (2008) (retrieved 5/6/10). Second National Survey of Violence & Discrimination
     Against Sexual Minorities

The DSM-5 Says Kink is OK!

 

The American Psychiatric Association has depathologized kinky sex – including cross-dressing, fetishes, and BDSM – in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5). Now the paraphilias are considered to be “unusual sexual interests,” while those who have sex with children or people who haven’t consented, or who deliberately cause harm to themselves or others, may be diagnosed with a Paraphilic Disorder.

 

“The APA has made it clear that being kinky is not a mental disorder,” says Susan Wright, Spokesperson for NCSF. “That means people no longer have to fear being diagnosed as mentally ill just because they belong to a BDSM group. We’ve already seen the impact – NCSF immediately saw a sharp rise in the success rate of child custody cases for kinky parents after the proposed DSM-5 criteria was released three years ago.”

 

NCSF would like to thank everyone who participated in signing our DSM Revision Petition and for telling the APA about their own stories of discrimination and persecution. NCSF also thanks every member of the APA Paraphilias Subworkgroup for responding to our concerns, and drawing a hard line between consensual adult kinky sex and those who willfully engage in nonconsensual or harmful activities.

 

NCSF is proud to build on the work of kink-aware professionals who have come before us, including Race Bannon and Guy Baldwin, who helped make seminal changes in the DSM-IV in 1994.

 

The following are some statements about the various paraphilias in the DSM-5. Although highly clinical in language, they show the APA’s intent to not demand treatment for healthy consenting adult sexual expression:

 

 “A paraphilia is a necessary but not a sufficient condition for having a paraphilic disorder, and a paraphilia by itself does not necessarily justify or require clinical intervention.” p. 686

 

“In contrast, if they declare no distress, exemplified by anxiety, obsessions, guilt or shame, about these paraphilic impulses, and are not hampered by them in pursuing other personal goals, they could be ascertained as having masochistic sexual interest but should not be diagnosed with a sexual masochism disorder.” p. 694

 

“Many individuals who self-identify as fetishist practitioners do not necessarily report clinical impairment in association with their fetish-associated behaviors. Such individuals could be considered as having a fetish but not fetishistic disorder.” p. 701

 

“Clinical assessment of distress or impairment, like clinical assessment of transvestic sexual arousal, is usually dependent on the individual’s self-report.” p. 703

 

To support NCSF, go to www.ncsfreedom.org. NCSF relies entirely on your donations to advance the rights of consenting adults and to do advocacy like our DSM Revision Project. Please donate now!

 

 Normal or Not? A Sexual Attraction to Objects

 

The DSM-5 marks this transition by attaching the term "disorder" when an unusual sexual interest crosses these boundaries. So, hypothetically, someone who simply uses shoes to masturbate or whose partner accepts his unusual interest in shoes could be diagnosed with fetishism, but not a fetishistic disorder — unless the fetish crosses the threshold in one of the ways described above.

Whips, chains and full of life: BDSM practitioners 'healthier and less neurotic' than 'vanilla' peers

 Along the same lines, Wismeijer also suggested that accepting one's unusual sexual preferences and choosing to live in a societal niche like the BDSM community might involve huge amounts of psychological work, which could translate into positive mental health.

Published in DSM Articles

Kinky is NOT a Diagnosis

Help make history by signing the DSM Revision Petition now! The diagnoses in the DSM-IV-TR still subject people who practice BDSM, fetishes and cross-dressing to bias, discrimination and social sanctions without any scientific basis.

We need 3,000 signatures, but we only have 2,200 now. If you don't speak up and call on the American Psychiatric Association to adhere to empirical research when revising the diagnoses in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM V), then the Sexual and Gender Identity Disorders Work Group won't make a meaningful change.

To sign, go to: www.thepetitionsite.com/1/DSMrevisionpetition

You can make your signature anonymous on this secure petition site so it doesn't appear on the Internet or when the petition is delivered to the APA.

Petition:


"We, the undersigned, support the American Psychiatric Association's (APA) own goal of making its Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM) a scientific document, based on empirical research and devoid of cultural bias. A diagnosis of a mental disorder can have a severe adverse impact on employment opportunities, child custody determinations, an individual's well-being, and other areas of functioning. Therefore we urge the APA to remove all diagnoses that are not based upon peer-reviewed, empirical research, demonstrating distress or dysfunction, from the DSM. The APA specifically should not promote current social norms or values as a basis for clinical judgments."


To find out more about the DSM and the Paraphilias section, read the NCSF & ITCR: The Foundation for www.thepetitionsite.com/1/DSMrevisionpetition's "White Paper on the DSM Revision" at www.ncsfreedom.org

For more information, email: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it     Help spread the word - please distribute this call for signatures!

October 15, 2009

Published in Action Alerts

The American Psychiatric Association has formed working committees to revise by 2011 its Diagnostic and Statistic Manual (DSM), the definitive resource on the Diagnostic Criteria for all mental disorders. Statements currently within the DSM Paraphilias criteria are contradicted by scientific evidence, therefore NCSF must conclude that the interpretation of the Paraphilias criteria has been politically – not scientifically – based. This politically motivated interpretation subjects BDSM practitioners, fetishists and cross-dressers to bias, discrimination and social sanctions without any scientific basis. We call on the American Psychiatric Association to remove or drastically restructure the Paraphilias section in the DSM.

The American Psychiatric Association's Paraphilias Subworkgroup Agrees: Kinky is NOT a Diagnosis!

In the proposals for the Diagnostic and Statistic Manual (DSM-V), alternative sexual behavior has been depathologized. NCSF applauds the American Psychiatric Association's Paraphilias Subworkgroup's revisions which state that you can be a fetishist, transvestite, sadist or masochist without having a mental disorder. More work needs to be done but this is an important first step!

Read more about the project. Included is relevant PR responses from the revision committee members as well as our responses to them.

Published in Tabs

Sweden takes sexual behaviors off their disease list

November 25, 2008 -

The Swedish National Board of Health and Welfare is declassifying sexual behaviors as mental illnesses to avoid strengthening prejudice against the behaviors, the Swedish news service Tidningarnas Telegrambyra reported last week. The diagnoses which will soon disappear from the disease registry include sadomasochism, fetishism, fetishistic transvestitism, transvestitism, gender identity disorder in youth, and multiple disorders of sexual preferences. NCSF applauds Lars-Erik Holm, the head of the National Board of Health and Welfare (Socialstyrelsen), who made the decision to declassify the behaviors because they are not illnesses in and of themselves, nor are they something perverse. "These diagnoses are rooted in a time when everything other than the heterosexual missionary position were seen as sexual perversions," Holm said. 

 "The NCSF's DSM Revision Project has the same goal to change or remove these harmful diagnoses," says Susan Wright. "We know from the hundreds of requests for help that NCSF gets every year through our Incident Response program that Sexual Sadism, Sexual Masochism, Fetishism and Transvestic Fetishism diagnoses in the American Psychiatric Association's Diagnostic and Statistic Manual (DSM) reinforce the negative stereotypes and stigma against alternative sexual behaviors." 

To support NCSF's DSM Revision Project, please sign the petition (www.ncsfreedom.org) that will be sent to the APA urging them to adhere to scientific research when revising the diagnoses in the DSM. To find out more about this project, read the NCSF and the ITCR: NCSF Foundation's White Paper posted on www.ncsfreedom.org

A joint Project of NCSF and ITCR: The Foundation of NCSF

Published in Press Releases

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

National Coalition for Sexual Freedom

 

 

Marching Forward: NCSF proactively advocates for sexual freedom

 

November 19, 2008 - NCSF is proud to be the only group in the country with a national mission committed to changing the political, legal and social environment for those involved with the BDSM, swing and polyamory communities. The new board of NCSF was voted in at the annual Coalition Partner meeting held in Atlanta in September: Leigha Fleming is the new Chairwoman of NCSF, and new board members Laura

Carlson (Secretary), Klawdya Rothschild, Tim Murray, and Ron Zimmerman have joined existing board members Vivienne Kramer (Treasurer), Jim Duvall, Jim Fleckenstein, and Howie Zusel.

 

NCSF has directly helped tens of thousands of practitioners, businesses and groups since its founding in 1997. NCSF's newest project is the DSM Revision Project: Kinky is NOT a Diagnosis! The DSM Revision Petition is gathering signatures from individuals and organizations calling on the American Psychiatric Association (APA) to adhere to empirical research when revising the diagnoses in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). Susan Wright is working directly with the DSM revision committee to ensure that healthy BDSM practitioners and cross-dressers are not misdiagnosed under the DSM criteria.

 

 

Incident Response
NCSF
's Incident Response team is directed by Leigha Fleming ( This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it ). Over 600 individuals, groups, attorneys, prosecutors, and businesses contact NCSF for help every year because of persecution or discrimination. This year NCSF assisted both Folsom Street Fair with media relations, and the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force's Creating Change conference when they were attacked for presenting Guy Baldwin with a "Leather Leadership Award". This continues our practice of fighting religious political extremists and performing outreach to local communities and authorities.

 

 

Media Outreach Project
NCSF
's Media Outreach Program provides sound bites, media statements and proven tactics for anyone speaking to the media about sexual freedom issues. Spokesperson Susan Wright ( This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it ) regularly gives media trainings and conducts over 60 interviews every year, influencing the coverage of alternative sexuality in the mainstream media. The NCSF Media Updates feature articles about BDSM, swinging and polyamory, and provides contact information to write letters to the editor in order to influence how editorial decisions are made in the future.

 

 

Kink Aware Professionals (KAP)
NCSF's Kink Aware Professionals (KAP) free referral list was started by Race Bannon who gave NCSF custody of the list in 2006. James Huesmann ( This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it ) is currently the director for the KAP program. Please request NCSF's KAP brochure for your members. NCSF actively recruits psychotherapeutic, medical, and legal professionals nationwide for this list, ensuring that community members can access professionals who are knowledgeable about and sensitive to diverse expressions of sexuality.

 

 

Legal Committee
NCSF
's Legal Advocacy team is led by John ( This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it ), with pro bono lawyers researching current laws and creating Amicus Briefs to submit to courts in cases involving obscenity prosecutions, "consent is not a defense to assault", and right to freedom of assembly. NCSF's Communications Decency Act lawsuit with Barbara Nitke made history by challenging the Miller standard of obscenity as it applies to the Internet.

 

 

Education Outreach Program
The Education Outreach Program (EOP) is run under the Institute for 21st Century Relationships by The Foundation of
NCSF. ITCR supports the freedom of consenting adults to discover and to practice the intimate relationship structure that best meets their emotional and human needs. The EOP educates law enforcement officials, and our constituents about the risks of selective enforcement and how to minimize the risk of becoming a target. NCSF has published a number of pieces of literature for this program and has trained a team of individuals from across the country to deliver 10 educational presentations from "Traveling With Toys" to "How to Protect Your Event."

 

 

Networking
For over a decade,
NCSF has formed valuable alliances with other advocacy organizations to work on projects that defend sexual freedom rights: Free Speech Coalition, the ACLU, American Association of Sex Educators, Counselors and Therapists, the Society for the Scientific Study of Sexuality, National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, and the Gay and Lesbian Activist Alliance, among others. Susan Wright is on the Advocacy Committee of the American Association of Sex Educators, Counselors and Therapists.

 

NCSF is a member of the organizing committee for the Sex Positive Journalism Awards, along with journalist Miriam Axel-Lute and activists from The Center for Sex & Culture. The first award ceremony for the Sexies was held in New York City on October 4, 2008 (www.sexies.org). NCSF also participates in

 

Consent Counts, a group formed at Creating Change 2007 to take on the work of decriminalizing Leather/kink/fetish/BDSM consensual adult behavior (www.consentcounts.org).

 

Membership
Currently NCSF has 56 Coalition Partners who elect the board and establish the yearly goals at the annual Coalition Partner meeting. Coalition Partners are groups and businesses that serve BDSM, swing and polyamory practitioners. NCSF also has nearly 100 Supporting Members - groups and businesses who actively support NCSF - totaling tens of thousands of members. You can also become an individual member for $25, which goes directly to supporting NCSF programs and projects.

 

 

Donate!
Aside from part-time Office Manager Levi Halberstadt ( This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it ), the staff of
NCSF consists of dozens of volunteers around the country. Every dollar that is donated to NCSF and ITCR goes to directly serving the alt sex communities. All donations to ITCR-NCSF are tax deductible.

 

In the past decade, alternative sexual expression has become much more visible to the general public, bringing about an increasing number of attacks. The success of this fight depends on your support. You can become an individual member of NCSF, volunteer to join the NCSF staff, make a donation to NCSF, initiate or help out at a fund-raiser for NCSF, and encourage your group to become a Coalition Partner of NCSF. Every step you take helps us further the sexual freedom movement!

 

Check out these exciting projects on the NCSF website at: www.ncsfreedom.org

 

A joint Project of NCSF and ITCR: The Foundation of NCSF

Published in Press Releases

NCSF and the NCSF Foundation's position on the discriminatory paraphilias section in the DSM.

Because the scientific evidence contradicts the statements currently within the DSM, we must conclude that the interpretation of the Paraphilias criteria has been politically NOT scientifically based. This politically motivated interpretation subjects BDSM practitioners, fetishists and cross-dressers to bias, discrimination and social sanctions without any scientific basis. We call on the American Psychiatric Association to remove or drastically restructure the Paraphilias section in the DSM.

The American Psychiatric Association's Diagnostic and Statistic Manual (DSM) is the definitive resource on the Diagnostic Criteria for all mental disorders. It influences the International Statistical Classification of Diseases (ICD) and other entities throughout the world.

The DSM-IV-TR definition of a mental disorder is that it is "…a clinically significant behavioral or psychological syndrome or pattern that occurs in an individual and that is associated with present distress (e.g., a painful symptom) or disability (i.e., impairment in one or more important areas of functioning) or with a significantly increased risk of suffering, death, pain, disability, or an important loss of freedom… Neither deviant behavior (e.g. political, religious, or sexual) nor conflicts that are primarily between the individual and society are mental disorders…" (p. xxxi)

Yet the Paraphilias section categorizes distress and dysfunction according to certain sexual behaviors, not psychological syndromes or patterns. Behavior itself is not evidence of psychopathology; compulsive hand washing may be a symptom of obsessive-compulsive disorder, but it is not a hand-washing disorder.

A distinction must be made between the cause and the effect. There is no data to support the Paraphilias as the cause of the distress and dysfunction in individuals. In addition, discrimination and societal pressure cause significant distress for a great number of people, in which the societal stigma is the cause rather than the sexual behavior itself.

There are no clear guidelines in the DSM that distinguish a Paraphilia from "healthy" sexuality. Can paraphiliacs be distinguished from those with "healthy" sexuality, except by differences in their sexual behavior? If yes, how? Can someone prefer those exact same behaviors without meeting the diagnostic criteria? Yes, according to the DSM itself (p. 568). So why not just define the abnormal preference instead of the behavior? Diagnostic criteria that pathologize everyone and do not distinguish pathology from normal variants are useless as diagnostic tools.

The Differential Diagnosis of the Paraphilias states:

"A Paraphilia must be distinguished from the non-pathological use of sexual fantasies, behaviors, or objects as a stimulus for sexual excitement in individuals without a Paraphilia. Fantasies, behaviors, or objects are paraphilic only when they lead to clinically significant distress or impairment (e.g., are obligatory, result in sexual dysfunction, require participation of nonconsenting individuals, lead to legal complications, interfere in social relationships). (DSM, p. 568)

Let's examine each of these "indicators" of psychopathology more carefully:

1. Obligatory
Heterosexual behavior is considered "obligatory" by heterosexuals, just as homosexual behaviors are considered "obligatory" by homosexuals. Neither is considered to be a psychopathology like Sexual Sadism, Sexual Masochism and Transvestic Fetishism.

2. Result in sexual dysfunction
43% of women and 31% of men report sexual dysfunction (Laumann, Paik, & Rosen, 1999). Yet the DSM does not contain a diagnosis for people having difficulty with heterosexual interests such as divorce, sexual harassment, not being able to maintain their erotic attraction to their partner, not having enough sex, or not being able to find a relationship. There is no causation data that finds that being heterosexual causes dysfunction, only correlation. There is also no data indicating if sexual dysfunction is more common among heterosexuals than others.

Any sex can be problematic. Masturbation, oral sex and anal sex were once considered to be mental disorders or symptoms of other mental disorders until these behaviors became an accepted form of sexuality. Nymphomania, Satyriasias, and Erotomania are also no longer considered to be mental disorders because these diagnoses impose a cultural value judgment on sexual behavior, rather than comprising a diagnosable entity.

3. Require participation of nonconsenting individuals
Sexual assault is a crime, not a psychiatric diagnosis. Rape is not listed in the DSM. Why do other nonconsensual sex interests have a diagnosis? For Exhibitionism, Frotteurism, and Voyeurism, the diagnosis can only be made if the partner or other person has not consented to the activity. Sadomasochism without consent is a crime; if the behavior is consensual, then it should be considered the same as any other consensual sex act. Pedophilia is a crime because it involves sexual relations between adults and minors.

4. Leads to legal complications
There are a number of legal complications that can arise from consensual sexual behaviors: child custody disputes, divorce settlements, arrest for obscenity and indecency, etc. Historically homosexuals have broken laws and suffered severe social consequences due to their sexual behavior. On this basis some states denied homosexuals the right to adopt because they were breaking the law in their sexual relations. It wasn't until the abolition of state sodomy laws in Lawrence v. Texas (2003) that homosexual activities became legal throughout the U.S. Yet the DSM removed homosexuality as a diagnosis over 30 years ago.

5. Interferes with social relationships
Discrimination and societal pressure over certain sexual behaviors can lead to a great deal of distress and dysfunction. The individual internalizes societal values, creating a conflict between themselves and society. They can encounter prejudice from friends, relatives, partners and co-workers because of their sexual behaviors. This doesn't mean that the individual has a mental disorder. In addition, therapists' beliefs, socialization, and theoretical perspectives will likely affect their judgments of sexual behaviors when they are asked to treat this distress. Thus the Paraphilias are a diagnosis of social/sexual control.

What scientific data supports the diagnoses in the Paraphilias section?

According to the APA, "The utility and credibility [of the DSM]… require that it… be supported by an extensive empirical foundation." (p. xxiii) The DSM-IV-TR's own revision standards are:

  • "to correct any factual errors…"
  • "to ensure that all of the information is up-to-date…"
  • "to reflect new information available…"
  • "changes had to be supported by empirical data." (p. xxix)

 

The data in the DSM Paraphilias section is not supported by scientific research:

1. Paraphilias
According to the DSM: "The individual Paraphilias can be distinguished based on difference in the characteristic paraphilic focus. However, if the individual's sexual preferences meet criteria for more than one Paraphilia, all can be diagnosed." (p. 569)

“Unusual” sexual interests are commonly found in the general population (Renaud & Byers, 1999; Sue, 1979)

"There is no empirical research suggesting that even those 'appropriately' (according to the DSM criteria) diagnosed with Sexual Sadism or Sexual Masochism are likely to experience either a dangerous increase in the intensity of their SM interactions nor that Pedophilia is a likely outgrowth of these activities." (Klein & Moser, p. 238)

According to the DSM: "Many individuals with these disorders assert that the behavior causes them no distress and that their only problem is social dysfunction as a result of the reaction of others to their behavior. Others report extreme guilt, shame, and depression at having to engage in an unusual sexual activity that is socially unacceptable or that they regard as immoral." (p. 567)

"Four out of five are satisfied with their S/M orientation." (Levitt et al. p. 472)

According to the DSM: "The behaviors may increase in response to psychosocial stressors, in relation to other mental disorders, or with increased opportunity to engage in the Paraphilia." (p. 568)

"The non-clinical studies of individuals with unusual sexual interests demonstrate that these individuals are indistinguishable from those with 'normophilic' (i.e., conventional) sexual interests." (Moser & Kleinplatz, 2003, p. 96)

2. Sexual Sadism
According to the DSM: "Some individuals with this Paraphilia are bothered by their sadistic fantasies, which may be invoked during sexual activities but not otherwise acted on; in such cases the sadistic fantasies usually involve having complete control over the victim, who is terrified by anticipation of the impending sadistic act. Others act on the sadistic sexual urges with a consenting partner (who may have Sexual Masochism) who willingly suffers pain or humiliation. Still others with Sexual Sadism act on their sadistic sexual urges with nonconsenting victims." (p. 573)

"The data suggest that the majority of rapists are not motivated by sadism." (Groth & Hobson, 1983; Hucker, 1997).

According to the DSM: "Sadistic fantasies or acts may involve activities that indicate the dominance of the person over the victim (e.g., forcing the victim to crawl or keeping the victim in a cage). They may also involve restraint, blindfolding, paddling, spanking, whipping, pinching, beating, burning, electrical shocks, rape, cutting, stabbing, strangulation, torture, mutilation, or killing." (DSM, p. 573)

"The inclusion of nonconsent is especially problematic in the case of Sexual Sadism. Although it is clearly possible for an individual with the diagnosis of Sexual Sadism to engage in nonconsensual acts, most “sadists” do not seek non-consenting partners." (Moser, 1999; Weinberg, Williams, & Moser, 1984)

"Just as it is inappropriate to confuse rapists with those individuals interested in consensual sexual activities, the lumping of individuals interested in consensual sexual sadism with those who engage in non-consensual activities is similarly inappropriate." (McConaghy, 1999)

According to the DSM: "Sadistic or masochist behaviors may lead to injuries ranging in extent from minor to life threatening." (DSM, p. 567)

"Although any sexual activity can lead to injury, there is no data to suggest that the practitioners of “sadistic or masochistic behaviors” frequent emergency departments more often than practitioners of other sexual behaviors. A review of the sports medicine and emergency medicine literature reveals numerous studies of specific injuries related to various sports and other activities. If unusual sexual acts resulted in a significant number of injuries, presumably they, too, would appear prominently in the medical literature." (Moser & Kleinplatz, 2005)

3. Sexual Masochism
According to the DSM: "Except for Sexual Masochism, where the sex ratio is estimated to be 20 males for each female, the other Paraphilias are almost never diagnosed in females, although some cases have been reported." (p. 568)

No studies have been found to support the 20:1 statement. Several studies were found that reported a significant number of women in the SM subculture (Breslow, Evans, & Langley, 1985; Gosselin, Wilson, & Barrett, 1991; Levitt, Moser, & Jamison, 1994). By combining the data of Breslow et al. (1985) and Levitt et al. (1994), a ratio of four male masochists to each female masochist was found. Even if clinical samples are overwhelmingly male, no study supports the naming of a specific ratio.

According to the DSM: "One particularly dangerous form of Sexual Masochism, called "hypoxyphilia," involves sexual arousal by oxygen deprivation obtained by means of chest compression, noose, ligature, plastic bag, mask or chemical (often a volatile nitrite that produces a temporary decrease in brain oxygenation by peripheral vasodilation). (DSM, pp. 572-3)

“In contrast to transvestism, bondage during the fatal asphyxial episode was not differentially associated with any specific erotic object or interest that we examined, even bondage pornography.” (Blanchard and Hucker, 1991, p. 375).

4. Transvestic Fetishism
According to the DSM: "Usually the male with Transvestic Fetishism keeps a collection of female clothes that he intermittently uses to cross-dress. This disorder has been described only in heterosexual males... Although his basic preference is heterosexual, he tends to have few sexual partners and may have engaged in occasional homosexual acts. An associated feature may be the presence of Sexual Masochism." (DSM p. 574)

"Cross-dressers… are virtually indistinguishable from non-cross-dressers [on the Derogatis Sexual Functioning Inventory (DSFI)]." Brown, et al. (1996, p. 265).

Summary

Because the scientific evidence contradicts the statements currently within the DSM, we must conclude that the interpretation of the Paraphilias criteria has been politically – not scientifically – based. Because of this, BDSM practitioners, fetishists and cross-dressers are subject to bias, discrimination and social sanctions without any scientific basis. We call on the American Psychiatric Association to remove or drastically restructure the Paraphilias section in the DSM.

Bibliography

  • Blanchard, R., & Hucker, S.J. (1991). Age, transvestism, bondage, and concurrent paraphilic activities in 117 fatal cases of autoerotic sphyxia. British Journal of Psychiatry, 159:371-377.
  • Breslow, N., Evans, L., & Langley, J. (1986). Comparisons among heterosexual, bisexual and homosexual male sadomasochists. Journal of Homosexuality 12(1), 83-107.
  • Brown, G.R., Wise, T.N., Costa, P.T., Herbst, J.H., Fagan, P.J., & Schmidt, C.W. (1996). Personality characteristics and sexual functioning of 188 cross-dressing men. The Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease, 184, 265-273.
  • Groth, N., & Hobson, W. (1983). The dynamics of sexual assault. In L. Schlesinger & E. Revitch (Eds.), Sexual Dynamics of Anti-social Behavior. Springfield, IL: Thomas.
  • Klein, M., & Moser, C. SM (Sadomasochiststic) Interests as an issue in a child custody proceeding. Journal of Homosexuality, 50 (2/3), 2006.
  • Levit, E.E., Moser, C., & Jamison, K.V. (1994). The prevalence and some attributes of females in the sadomasochistic subculture; A second report. Archives of Sexual Behavior 23, 465-473.
  • McConaghy, N. (1999). Unresolved issues in scientific sexology. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 28, 285-302.
  • Moser, C. and Kleinplatz, P.J. (2005). DSM-IV-TR and the paraphilias: An argument for removal, Journal of Psychology and Human Sexuality, 17(3/4), 91-109.
  • Renaud, C., & Byers, E. S. (1999). Exploring the frequency, diversity and content of university students’ positive and negative sexual cognitions. Canadian Journal of Human Sexuality, 8 (1), 17-30.
  • Sue, D. (1979). Erotic fantasies of college students during coitus. Journal of Sex Research, 15, 299-305.
Published in DSM Articles
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Resources for Media

Resources for Media

Includes vital statistics on alternative sexual expression, interview contact list, and a selection of articles from national publications.

Community Resources

Community Resources

Includes tips on how to speak to the media, sound-bites on alternative sexual expression, and a primer on how to write a letter to the editor.

NCSF in the News

NCSF in the News

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    Tags: Detroit
  • NCSF Wins - Large Non Profit

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    Tags: NCSF
  • NCSF Condemns the Atlanta Police Department's Raid on the Eagle

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    Tags: Susan Wright Eagle Raid Gay
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    Tags: Susan Wright Dominatrics
  • NCSF in the News

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    Tags: Media Rights Sexual Behaviors Alternative Sexual Expression Media Outreach Articles Legal Advocate News
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    Tags: Advocate
  • Now Seeking Entries for 2008 "Sexies"

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    Tags: Sexies
  • NCSF 10th Anniversary pins!

    NCSF is proud to produce a limited supply of 10th Anniversary pins. Only a 100 of these specially designed 10th Anniversary pins will be produced, and they're already selling fast!   Are you a pin collector?   Do you wear your leather vest proudly, showing off your many club affiliations?   Then you MUST have this very special pin.      






    Tags: NCSF PINS
  • Swing Clubs - Why NCSF Matters to You!

    A letter from NCSF to the swing club community explaining why NCSF is important to your issues, and how we are furthering those goals. Written and signed by NCSF Board member Doug Wilson. April 27, 2007 Dear Club Owners, I am writing to you on behalf of the lifestyle organizations and businesses affiliated with the National Coalition for Sexual Freedom (NCSF). I am writing to urge you to join the…






    Tags: Swing
  • Creating Change Conference - Has Your Voice Been Heard?

    November 11, 2006 - Next week the NCSF and ITCR will be represented at the 19th Annual "Creating Change" conference, the largest annual convening of LGBT activists in North America! This groundbreaking conference works to provide LGBT activists and their allies with the information, tools and technical assistance necessary to successfully mobilize our local communities, to combat homophobia and to strengthen our political power in the fight to preserve sexual…






    Tags: Creating Change Conference
  • NCSF Adopts Kink-Aware Professionals List

    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE National Coalition for Sexual Freedom NCSF adopts Kink Aware Professionals February 10, 2006 - Race Bannon and NCSF announce the transfer of management of Kink Aware Professionals to NCSF. The National Coalition of Sexual Freedom is proud to continue and grow the Kink Aware Professionals program which was founded and has been managed by Race Bannon for many years. To find a Kink Aware professional, go to:…






    Tags: KAP
  • Supreme Court Appeal for Communications Decency Act Lawsuit

    August 22, 2005 - New York, NY - Barbara Nitke and the National Coalition for Sexual Freedom have filed a notice of appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court of the District Court's decision in the Communications Decency Act (CDA) challenge. Their appeal contends the District Court applied an incorrect legal standard for determining whether protected material was improperly banned under the CDA. The District Court also committed legal error in…






    Tags: CDA Nitke
  • NCSF + FSC = Powerhouse!

    July 5, 2005, The National Coalition for Sexual Freedom (NCSF) and the Free Speech Coalition (FSC) are pleased to announce their official partnership! As of July 1, 2005, two of the nation's leading organizations dedicated to the rights of consenting adults and free speech will team up to network, educate the public on overlapping issues, raise funding, and reach out to new members. This announcement is being made on the…






    Tags: FSC
  • Free Speech Coalition Files Motion Seeking 2257 TRO

    CANOGA PARK, Calif. – The Free Speech Coalition (FSC) today filed a complaint and motion in the United States District Court of Colorado seeking a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) enjoining enforcement of the recently re-issued federal record-keeping and labeling requirements, 18 U.S.C. § 2257, which are due to go into effect June 23, 2005. The case is Free Speech Coalition v. Alberto Gonzales, # 05 CV 1126 WDM. The lawsuit,…






    Tags: FSC
  • NCSF and Barbara Nitke File Amicus Brief in "United States vs. Extreme Associates"

    May 26, 2005 - New York, NY - The obscenity case against Extreme Associates was dismissed by a Federal judge in Pittsburgh, PA, in January, 2005. But the battle isn't over yet: U. S. Attorney Mary Beth Buchanan has appealed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. NCSF and Barbara Nitke have joined the fight challenging the constitutionality of obscenity laws by filing an Amicus Brief in…






    Tags: Legal Supreme Court Obscenity
  • Sex, Art & Politics Takes on John Ashcroft

    September 7, 2004 New York City The Communications Decency Act (CDA) trial date has been set for October 27-29, 2004, at the United States District Court in New York City. Plaintiffs Barbara Nitke and the National Coalition for Sexual Freedom are contesting the remaining CDA provisions allowing "local community standards" to be used to define obscenity on the Internet. These provisions were not the subject of the 1997 Supreme Court…






    Tags: Susan Wright CDA Nitke
  • Leather Archives & Museum Capital Campaign

    On August 4th, 2004 the Leather Archives & Museum has a $225,000 balloon payment due on its facility at 6418 N. Greenview Avenue in Chicago. $175,000 of this has been raised. Any balance due can be refinanced, but that means thousands of dollars in interest over the next 10 years. The community can do much better things with that money. If you have not donated to the campaign, we're asking…






    Tags: Leather Archives Museum
  • Barbara Nitke visit to SF - PR and calendar of events for Sept 2004

    Mark I. Chester (http://mchester.best.vwh.net) and Dr. Carol Queen's non-profit Center for Sex and Culture (http://www.sexandculture.org), announce a series of events in mid-September 2004 on radical sex photography and artistic freedom, featuring New York City photographer Barbara Nitke (http://www.barbaranitke.com). The events coincide with the upcoming Folsom St. Fair, Sun Sept. 26th, San Francisco's annual leather street fair, California's third largest public outdoor event. Barbara Nitke visit to SF - pr and…






    Tags: Nitke
  • CDA Fundraising Countdown!

    NCSF needs your help fighting our battle against increasing obscenity prosecutions. NCSF's Communications Decency Act lawsuit, filed with Barbara Nitke in Federal Court, is scheduled to go to trial this Fall! John Wirenius, our attorney, has graciously agreed to donate his services pro bono, but we need money to bring in expert witnesses to testify on our behalf (all of the expert witnesses are donating their time to this case).…







  • NCSF's IML Raffle a Success!

    The National Coalition for Sexual Freedom is pleased to announce the winner of our 2004 International Mr. Leather Weekend Giveaway Raffle. We would like to thank the producers of IML for the donation of the winner's event packages. The room at the host hotel and air transportation to Chicago is being provided by NCSF. NCSF netted approximately $2,000 after raffle expenses. LadyKuanYin from Florida was the winner, having purchased her…






    Tags: Raffle IML
  • NCSF Spearheads First National Swing Leadership Conference

    March 10, 2004 - Chicago, Illinois - The National Coalition for Sexual Freedom and Club Adventure, Inc. held a leadership conference for swing club owners in Chicago on February 28 and 29, 2004. The conference was attended by over 50 people, representing dozens of swing clubs across the country. Primarily focused on the rights of consenting adults in the SM-leather-fetish, swing, and polyamory communities, NCSF is committed to creating a…






    Tags: Swing
  • NCSF Calls for Reinstatement of Cuffs at Iowa State University

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    Tags: Susan Wright SM
  • NCSF Announces Swing Leadership Conference

    The National Coalition for Sexual Freedom, in conjunction with Club Adventure, is pleased to present a Leadership Conference for owners of swing clubs and community members, scheduled to take place in Chicago, February 28 and 29, 2004.







  • NCSF in Time magazine

    National Coalition for Sexual Freedom is proud to be mentioned by Time Magazine in an article entitled "Bondage Unbound" by John Cloud in the January 19th issue. National Coalition for Sexual Freedom is proud to be mentioned by Time Magazine in an article entitled "Bondage Unbound" by John Cloud in the January 19th issue. To read the article, go to: http://www.time.com/time/2004/sex/article/bondage_unbound_growing01a.html It is the policy of the National Coalition for…







  • PPF Fund Announcement

    The PPF Fund is an exciting way to support two fantastic organizations dedicated to protecting the past and future of our Community. Help support the cause by making a donation directly to either organization by snail mail (at the address listed below). Please make your check payable to either Leather Archives & Museum, National Coalition for Sexual Freedom, or send a check for each! You can also make a direct…







  • NCSF Call to Action

    A social and educational event, Fetish in the Fall, scheduled to take place in Kenner, Louisiana (part of greater New Orleans) has been attacked by the local police chief. Please see the press release below that was sent by the police to the New Orleans media.







  • NCSF Applauds U.S. Supreme Court Ruling on the Texas Sodomy Law

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  • Eden Sarfaty Named Executive Director of NCSF

    WASHINGTON DC, JUNE 24, 2003 -- The National Coalition for Sexual Freedom (NCSF) has named Eden Sarfaty as Executive Director. Sarfaty, a Washington, DC attorney, is an expert in the area of legislative and administrative law, with experience in the management of national associations, lobbying at all levels of state and federal government, and criminal defense. He will take the helm from Leigha Fleming, acting Executive Director, on July 1st,…







  • Hotel Outreach Project

    The religious extremist organization, Concerned Women for America, continues to attack hotels that host SM events. CWA has a petition up now targeting IML that will be sent to their host hotels (CWA Petition). An NCSF volunteer has kindly offered to head up the NCSF Hotel Outreach Project to counter their sensationalized rhetoric by gathering data and supporting evidence that SM events aren't dangerous and can be profitable for businesses.…







  • NCSF Reaches Agreement with Cendant Hotels on SM Events

    September 30, 2002 - Responding to concerns that it was prohibiting franchisees from hosting events for "sadomasochism enthusiasts," the Cendant Corporation Hotel Group, the world's largest hotel franchisor, has assured the National Coalition for Sexual Freedom that it will honor the right of franchisees to host the events of their choice.







  • 300 People Attend Barbara Nitke Photography Exhibit

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  • NCSF Counters Attack by Radical Right on Sexual Minority Groups

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  • Challenging Internet Obscenity Law, Historic Lawsuit is Filed by NCSF and Artist Barbara Nitke

    NEW YORK CITY (December 11, 2001) The National Coalition for Sexual Freedom (NCSF), a national civil liberties organization, and Barbara Nitke, an acclaimed New York City artist who operates her own Web site (www.BarbaraNitke.com), today filed a court challenge that aims to overturn the last remaining Internet censorship provision of the flawed Communications Decency Act.







Action Alerts!

Action Alerts!

  • Action Alert - Take Action Californians!

    Our BDSM communities could be adversely impacted by a well-intentioned, but overly broad, piece of proposed criminal legislation that has been introduced by Senator Christine Kehoe in the California Senate.  NCSF is asking all of you to sign and send to NCSF letters (a draft is attached below) that we can introduce if necessary at a hearing likely to be held in April, 2011. The purpose of the bill, SB…





    Written on Sunday, 03 April 2011 21:11
    Tags: Consent Counts action alerts california SB 430
  • Action Alert: Atlanta Eagle Update

    Lawless cops are a threat to everyone in America NCSF joins state and local representatives in urging everyone to file a complaint if they were present at the Eagle on September 10th, when the Atlanta police illegally detained 62 patrons and 8 employees and searched them without a warrant, reasonable suspicion, or probable cause. You can file a complaint with the Atlanta Police Department and the Atlanta Citizen Review Board…





    Written on Thursday, 05 November 2009 10:17
    Tags: Susan Wright Action Alert Human Rights
  • Action Alert - DSM Petition 10/15/09

    Kinky is NOT a Diagnosis Help make history by signing the DSM Revision Petition now! The diagnoses in the DSM-IV-TR still subject people who practice BDSM, fetishes and cross-dressing to bias, discrimination and social sanctions without any scientific basis. We need 3,000 signatures, but we only have 2,200 now. If you don't speak up and call on the American Psychiatric Association to adhere to empirical research when revising the diagnoses…





    Written on Thursday, 15 October 2009 10:22
    Tags: DSM Leather Fetish
  • Action Alert - Stop the Arrests in NYC

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    Written on Tuesday, 24 February 2009 07:48
    Tags: Action Alert Dominance Gay AntiViolence
  • Action Alert - Winter Wickedness

    Support the Holiday Inn - Worthington, OH!  February 4, 2009 Please make a phone call now to support the Holiday Inn Worthington, the host hotel for Adventures In Sexuality's (AIS) Winter Wickedness Event taking place February 6-8th. The religious extremist group, Americans for Truth About Homosexuality, along with a local religious radio station in the Columbus, Ohio, area are running a smear campaign against this pansexual BDSM event.  Peter LaBarbara of Americans…





    Written on Wednesday, 04 February 2009 11:22
    Tags: Winter Wickedness Action Alert
  • Action Alert - DSM Revision Petition






    Written on Monday, 15 September 2008 09:00

  • Action Alert - Religious political extremists attack The Task Force for "Leather Leadership Award"

    February 13, 2008 - The American Family News Network posted an inflammatory article condemning the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force for honoring Guy Baldwin with  their Leather Leadership Award at the 20th National Conference on LGBT Equality:  Creating Change, on February 6-10, 2008 (www.thetaskforce.org). According to the February 7th article: Peter LaBarbera, executive director of Americans for Truth commented that he is  not sure if he is more surprised…





    Written on Wednesday, 13 February 2008 11:12
    Tags: DSM Creating Change Conference Task Force Award Leather LGBT
  • Action Alert: Folsom Street Fair Needs Your Help

    October 12, 2007 - The Catholic League, Concerned Women for America and Americans for Truth have called for a boycott of Miller Brewing Company because they are one of the sponsors of Folsom Street Fair in San Francisco. "Miller is sponsoring an incredibly outrageous and palpably anti-Christian event," said Bill Donohue, president of the Catholic League.  Miller is feeling the heat, and we need you to email Miller Brewing Company…





    Written on Friday, 12 October 2007 08:04
    Tags: CWA Folsom Street
  • Action Alert - Support the Palmer House Hilton

    June 6, 2007 - Please write a short note of support for the Palmer House Hilton, host hotel for International Mr. Leather, thanking them for not discriminating against any guests or groups based on their sexual orientation. The anti-gay group, Americans For Truth, posted an action alert calling for people to protest the "homosexual orgies" that take place at the "sadistic sexual perversion-fest known as International Mr. Leather."   NCSF…





    Written on Wednesday, 06 June 2007 01:00
    Tags: Leather
  • Action Alert - Kink.com

    March 8, 2007 - An informational hearing has been scheduled for March 8 at San Francisco City Hall from 10-12:30. Kink.com needs lots of people to show up and support Kink.com's right to be in business. NCSF recommends that you wear business or casual clothes so that our community looks like the neighbors – we need to show them that we won't abide discrimination and persecution against alt sex practices…





    Written on Thursday, 08 March 2007 01:00
    Tags: Action Alert Kink.com
CDA Media Reports

CDA Media Reports

Media reports covering the Communications Decency Act lawsuit launched by co-plaintiffs NCSF and Barbara Nitke.

  • NEWSBYTES - December 19, 2001

    Net Obscenity Provisions Revocation Sought NEWSBYTES By David McGuire http://www.NEWSBYTES.com December 19, 2001, Washington, DC -- A small civil liberties group has asked a federal judge in New York to revoke what remains of an Internet pornography law that was gutted by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1997. In a complaint filed in a New York City Federal Court [http://www.USCourts.gov ] last week, the National Coalition for Sexual Freedom [https://ncsfreedom.org…






    Tags: Media News
  • San Francisco Bay Guardian - January 14, 2002

    Techsploitation By Annalee Newitz San Francisco Bay Guardian, January 14, 2002   HERE'S YET ANOTHER wacky fact you probably didn't know about the Communications Decency Act ole Bill Clinton signed into law way back in 1996: the good citizens of some small town in Arizona or southern California might have the power to send you to jail if they think the contents of your Web site are "obscene." The CDA…






    Tags: Media CDA
  • San Francisco Frontiers - January 23, 2002

    Communications Decency Act A Lingering Coup de Grace? By Tim Kingston   January 23, 2002   You may dimly recall the Communications Decency Act of 1996, which unsuccessfully attempted to define and proscribe "indecency" on the Internet. That law's legal core--its indecency provision--was immediately challenged and rapidly struck down as unconstitutional by free- and electronic-speech advocates. But, what many may not know is that another portion of the law, prohibiting…






    Tags: Media CDA
  • Ynot News - January 2, 2002

    Can David Beat Goliath in the Battle of Obscenity? Part 2   By Judd Handler   Ynot News, January 2, 2002   Last week's editorial featured an interview with John Wirenius, lead counsel for the National Coalition for Sexual Freedom and Barbara Nitke, an adult content photographer. Wirenius, on behalf of the NCSF and Nitke, filed a lawsuit on December 11 against Attorney General John Ashcroft seeking to overturn Internet…






    Tags: Media CDA
  • Ynot News - December 20, 2001

    Can David Beat Goliath in the Battle of Obscenity? By Judd Handler   Ynot News, December 20, 2001   One would think it would take the giants of the industry to force the government to rethink existing, not-applicable-to-the-Internet obscenity laws. On the contrary, the little players may be the ones who are successful in getting the federal government and the Supreme Court to throw out irrelevant local community standards when…






    Tags: Media CDA
  • Wired - December 12, 2001

    New Suit Targets Obscenity Law By Julia Scheeres Wired, December 12, 2001    A national organization that promotes sexual tolerance and an artist who photographs pictures of couples engaged in sadomasochism filed a lawsuit Tuesday seeking to overturn Internet obscenity laws. The National Coalition for Sexual Freedom and photographer Barbara Nitke argue that the obscenity provision of the Communications Decency Act (CDA) is so broad that it violates free speech.…






    Tags: Media CDA
  • Spectator Magazine - January 11, 2002

    STANDING UP TO BE COUNTED: BARBARA NITKE CHALLENGES JOHN ASHCROFT ON S/M AND INTERNET OBSCENITY By David Steinberg Spectator Magazine, January 11, 2002 "No matter how we're wired to express love, freedom is having the courage to be who we are." - Photographer/plaintiff Barbara Nitke On December 11, Barbara Nitke and the National Coalition for Sexual Freedom brought suit in New York City's Federal District Court, seeking to have the…






    Tags: Media CDA
  • New York Press - August 28, 2002

    What's Obscene in Podunk By John Strausbaugh New York Press, August 28, 2002   Barbara Nitke is a well-known and much-seen photographer in her field. She's president of the New York Camera Club and teaches a course in darkroom technique at SVA. A nice, neat, sweet individual, she's the very very last person in New York City you'd suspect of being a pornographer. Which she's not, not exactly. She's more…






    Tags: Media CDA
  • New York Newsday - July 25 2005

    New York judges refuse to say Internet obscenity law is unconstitutional By LARRY NEUMEISTER Associated Press Writer, July 25, 2005, 7:58 PM EDT  NEW YORK -- A special three-judge federal panel on Monday refused to find unconstitutional a law making it a crime to send obscenity over the Internet to children. The Communications Decency Act of 1996 had been challenged by Barbara Nitke, a photographer who specializes in pictures of…






    Tags: Media CDA
  • New York Daily News - July 15, 2002

    Fotog vs. Feds in Obscenity Law: Files suit to keep photos on Web by Veronica Vera New York Daily News, July 15, 2002 Photographer Barbara Nitke is used to being behind the lens, but if legal matters heat up, she may soon find the government focusing on her. Nitke is ready to step into the foreground as the chief plantiff in Barbara Nitke and the National Coalition for Sexual Freedom…






    Tags: Media CDA
  • Nerve - December 11, 2001

    Nerve December 11, 2001 Photographer Barbara Nitke and the National Coalition for Sexual Freedom (NCSF) filed a lawsuit today, claiming the Internet censorship provision of the Communications Decency Act (CDA) violates the First Amendment right to free speech. The provision stipulates that "local community standards" will judge whether or not something is indecent. Yet attorney John Wirenius argues that "By allowing the most restrictive jurisdiction to define what speech can…






    Tags: Media CDA
  • CNN - December 20, 2001

    Lawsuit targets last scraps of Net-obscenity law By Sam Costello (IDG News) CNN, December 20, 2001 The National Coalition for Sexual Freedom (NCSF) and artist Barbara Nitke have filed a lawsuit challenging the remaining provisions of the Communications Decency Act, much of which was struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1997. The act, or CDA, was passed in 1996 and was the first U.S. law designed to allow…






    Tags: CDA Media
  • Adult Video News - February, 2002

    NCSF Tackles "Community Standards" For The Web By Mark Kernes Adult Video News, February Issue Washington, DC The National Coalition for Sexual Freedom may not be a household name, even in the adult entertainment industry, but if their recently-filed lawsuit succeeds, they may go down in history as the first group to secure Americans' core constitutional speech rights.  NCSF is based in the nation's capital [~] in fact, only a…






    Tags: Media CDA News
  • ABC News - July 29, 2002

    Love or Obscenity? S/M Photographer Challenges Internet Decency Standards By Dean Schabner ABCnews.com, July 29, 2002 When Barbara Nitke wanted to put her photographs of loving couples on the Internet, she thought she should check into the laws first. That's because Nitke's recent photographs have been focused on how some couples express their love through sado-masochism. What Nitke found after reading up on Internet law and talking to lawyers was…






    Tags: Media CDA
NCSF Newsletters

NCSF Newsletters

A quarterly newsletter produced by the NCSF staff to inform our communities about the important work our coalition is doing.

  • NCSF Newsletter: 1st Quarter 2012

    NCSF Newsletter 1st Quarter, 2012 In this issue The NCSF Annual Meeting is the 3rd Weekend of March! Sexual Freedom Stories in the News What happened at Spanksgiving? Spanksgiving, an Addendum Coalition Corner - The Eulenspiegel Society Meet Your Board! Returning Member- Vivienne Kramer The NCSF Annual Meeting is the 3rd Weekend of March!  Join us in St. Paul Minnesota this spring! We are pulling out all the stops for a…





    Written on Wednesday, 01 February 2012 00:24
    Tags: Newsletter News newletters
  • NCSF Newsletter: 4th Quarter 2011

    NCSF Newsletter 4th Quarter, 2011   In this issue NCSF Annual Meeting, March 2012 in Minnesota Consent Counts: Report & Looking to the Future Consent Counts: Words from Our Board Chair Coalition Corner: Siege Works Meet Your Board! Returning Member- Mercury  NCSF Annual Meeting, March 2012 in Minnesota  By: Sassy, CP Rep - Minnesota Stocks Debentures & Bonds March is known for "March Madness" in Minnesota. It's a time of high school…





    Written on Friday, 11 November 2011 02:28
    Tags: Newsletter News Newsletters
  • NCSF Newsletter: 3rd Quarter 2011

    NCSF Newsletter 3rd Quarter, 2011    In this issue Membership Drive...Keep that Independence Day Spirit Minnesota Welcomes NCSF next March! Meet Your Board!...New Member- Julian Wolf Update: Kinky is NOT a Diagnosis Consent Counts Expands Educational Focus Coalition Corner - Meet the New Mexico Leather League Membership Drive Keep that Independence Day Spirit and become a freedom fighter by joining NCSF! NCSF is having a membership drive until July 31st! NCSF is…





    Written on Wednesday, 20 July 2011 00:52
    Tags: Newsletter News
  • NCSF Newsletter: 2nd Quarter 2011

    NCSF Newsletter 2nd Quarter 2011 In this issue NCSF's Coalition Partners Meet in Cambridge Annual Meeting Letter From the Chair Hosting the Annual Meeting New Coalition Partner, FetFest, Launches Ticket Donations Creating Change at Creating Change Why KAP (Kink Aware Professionals) Affecting the Law In California NCSF's Coalition Partners Meet in Cambridge The National Coalition for Sexual Freedom held its annual Coalition Partner meeting in Cambridge, MA from March 26-27,…





    Written on Wednesday, 11 May 2011 15:07

  • NCSF Newsletter: 1st Quarter 2011

    NCSF Newsletter: 1st Quarter 2011 In this issue   Letter from the Chair Boston Annual Meeting Interview with a Coalition Partner DSM Revision Project a Success Why support the NCSF?   From the ChairBy: Leigha FlemingNCSF Board Chair Hello to all of you and an especially warm greeting to all of our supporting and coalition partners. 2010 has been an exciting year for NCSF. We had some major successes with…





    Written on Friday, 25 March 2011 14:28

  • NCSF Newsletter: 4th Quarter 2010

    Winter: January 2010 In this issue   NCSF Publishes Two Important Mental Health Guides NCSF Protests Raid on Atlanta Eagle Consent Counts- Get Involved! Coalition Partner Stewardship NCSF Publishes Two Important Mental Health Guidesby: Susan Wright NCSF and the Foundation are thrilled to announce two new and valuable additions to its line of publications. The first is A Guide to Choosing a Kink-Aware Therapist , created by Keely Kolmes Psy.D.…





    Written on Friday, 25 March 2011 14:23
    Tags: Newsletter Notes
  • NCSF Newsletter: 3rd Quarter 2010

    NCSF Newsletter: 3rd Quarter 2010   In this issue Next Annual Meeting AASECTH NCSF & FetLife NCSF Comes to You Tube Next Annual Meeting in BostonBy: Opn Heartd CP Rep, MOB New England New Englanders, maybe you belong to a NCSF Coalition Partner group like NELA or NE-DS or Mob New England or you are an individual supporting member of NCSF.  Maybe you've attended an event that donated to NCSF,…





    Written on Tuesday, 22 March 2011 14:40
    Tags: Newsletter Notes
  • NCSF Newsletter: 2nd Quarter 2010

    NCSF Newsletter Spring: May 2010 In this issue Annual Meeting Board of Directors Volunteer of the Year New Papers ___________________________________________________________________________________ Annual Coalition Partner's Meeting  The Annual Coalition Partner's Meeting was held in Seattle this year. It was the NCSF's first time in the city of Seattle and this could not have been done without the efforts of the Seattle community - particularly Jim Duvall and Allena Gabosch. We would like…





    Written on Sunday, 20 March 2011 15:35
    Tags: Newsletter Notes
  • NCSF Newsletter: 1st Quarter 2010

    NCSF Newsletter: Winter January 2010 In this issue NCSF Publishes Two Important Mental Health Guides NCSF Protests Raid on Atlanta Eagle Consent Counts- Get Involved! Coalition Partner Stewardship  _____________________________________________________________________________ NCSF Publishes Two Important Mental Health Guides by: Susan Wright NCSF and the Foundation are thrilled to announce two new and valuable additions to its line of publications. The first is A Guide to Choosing a Kink-Aware Therapist , created by…





    Written on Sunday, 20 March 2011 14:58
    Tags: Notes Newsletters
  • NCSF Newsletter: 4th Quarter 2009

    Download NCSF Notes Winter 2009-2010





    Written on Thursday, 14 January 2010 07:12
    Tags: Newsletter Notes
Media Activity Reports

Media Activity Reports

Reports about the activities of the NCSF Media Committee.

  • NCSF Media Activity Report - 2007

    September 2007 to August 2008 The NCSF Media Committee reviews, edits, and refines the documents that NCSF distributes. The media committee is chaired by Susan Wright, spokesperson for NCSF, and consists of Levi Halberstadt, Keith Richie, Lisa Vandever, Lolita Wolf, and Howie Z. Over the past year, Susan gave five media trainings including one for the board of a national event, and one at the annual CP meeting for CP…






    Tags: BDSM Susan Wright Task Force
  • Media Activity Reports

    Reports about the activities of the NCSF Media Committee NCSF has an active media committee which provides interviews for print, radio, and television. We creates press releases, action alerts, and entertainment media updates. The Media committee also provides media training and coaching to coalition partners, advocacy groups and responds to hundreds of media related queries. With the action around the CDA lawsuit as well as other media events, this has…






    Tags: Activist Media Coalition Partners
  • NCSF Media Activity Report - 2006

    September 2005 - September 2006 The NCSF Media Committee reviews, edits, and refines the documents that NCSF publicly distributes. The media committee consists of Susan Wright, Allena Gabosch, Anita Wagner, Lisa Vandever, Lolita Wolf, Howie Z., and Keith, who creates and distributes the NCSF Media Updates. Interviews Susan Wright gave 57 interviews with most of the media outlets contacting NCSF, indicating that NCSF has much higher profile than before the…






    Tags: Susan Wright Media CDA
Press Releases

Press Releases

  • NCSF: Moving Forward

    What is the difference between NCSF and the NCSF Foundation?   The National Coalition for Sexual Freedom is a 501c4 nonprofit membership organization that advocates for those in the kink and polyamory lifestyles. The Coalition Partners oversee NCSF’s Board of Directors, who in turn run the projects and programs of both organizations. The NCSF Foundation is a 501c3 nonprofit charitable organization that educates about BDSM, swinging and polyamory to destigmatize…





    Written on Monday, 10 March 2014 00:56

  • 2013 Advocacy Roundup

    National Coalition for Sexual Freedom 2013 Advocacy Roundup NCSF faced some difficult challenges in 2013, but the dedicated volunteer staff worked hard to advocate for the BDSM, swing and polyamory lifestyles: Kink is Okay                   The biggest news of 2013 was that the American Psychiatric Association depathologized consensual sadism, masochism, cross-dressing and fetishes in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5). NCSF’s DSM-Revision project began in April…





    Written on Thursday, 06 February 2014 00:52

  • Take the Consent Violations Survey!

    Please take this survey even if you’ve never had a consent violation. We want to know what are your power exchange and sexual identities? Are you “out” about being kinky? How often do you go to BDSM groups and online communities?   NCSF will use these results to help perform its advocacy, such as helping law enforcement, prosecutors and health care professionals understand the experiences of kinky people and provide…





    Written on Wednesday, 22 January 2014 00:47

  • The National Coalition for Sexual Freedom and Leather Archives & Museum proudly present: “BDSM? Erotic Play? What Are the Legal Risks?”

    Where: Leather Archives & Museum6418 N. Greenview AvenueChicago, IL 60626 When: Saturday, October 19th from 2:30-5 p.m.followed by awine and cheese reception for the benefit of LA&M and NCSF from 5-7 p.m.Presentation is free of charge.Wine and cheese reception has a suggested donation of $20 and is open to the public.   Program description:You and your BDSM partner may be having a great time, but you need to know about…





    Written on Tuesday, 24 September 2013 00:42

  • The DSM-5 Says Kink is OK!

    The DSM-5 Says Kink is OK!   The American Psychiatric Association has depathologized kinky sex – including cross-dressing, fetishes, and BDSM – in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5). Now the paraphilias are considered to be “unusual sexual interests,” while those who have sex with children or people who haven’t consented, or who deliberately cause harm to themselves or others, may be diagnosed with a…





    Written on Saturday, 22 June 2013 00:32
    Tags: DSM
  • NCSF’s Coalition Partners Join Together for Consent Summit

    NCSF’s Coalition Partners Join Together for Consent Summit   The National Coalition for Sexual Freedom held its annual Coalition Partner meeting in Phoenix, Arizona from February 8-10, 2013. The Consent Summit took place Friday evening, and Coalition Partners were able to participate via streaming video to give their input on the new Consent Statement. Go to www.ncsfreedom.org to see the Consent Statement and comment on it.   “The Consent Statement…





    Written on Tuesday, 19 February 2013 00:22
    Tags: Consent_Counts
  • Office Fire Fundraiser

    Our Office Burned! We need YOUR help February 13, 2013 – The NCSF office in Baltimore, MD, was destroyed in a fire a few weeks ago. We’ve lost everything: computer, office supplies and furnishings, tee shirts, and all of our stored printed literature are gone.    Please donate to the NCSF Fire Recovery Fund drive:   https://www.wepay.com/donations/ncsf-fire-recovery-fund      Donations are tax deductible! In order to continue helping the BDSM-leather-fetish, swing…





    Written on Wednesday, 13 February 2013 00:15

  • NCSF Survey on Consent

    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE National Coalition for Sexual Freedom NCSF Survey on Consent The National Coalition for Sexual Freedom (NCSF) wants to hear from you! Please take our Consent Counts survey and tell us what you think about consent: www.ncsfreedom.org/survey.html As part of decriminalizing BDSM in the legal codes, we need to be able to articulate a clear definition of consent that the BDSM communities believe in. The results of this…





    Written on Monday, 09 July 2012 10:19
    Tags: Survey Consent Counts consent fetlife
  • Mark Frazier Joins the NCSF Board of Directors

    Mark Frazier Joins the NCSF Board of Directors July 1, 2012 - The National Coalition for Sexual Freedom is pleased to announce the addition of a new board member, Mark Frazier. Mark will fill an appointed board seat until the 2013 Coalition Partner meeting. Mark Frazier is the owner and executive producer of the International LeatherSir/Leatherboy and community bootblack contests. He has been involved in the leather and kink lifestyle…





    Written on Tuesday, 03 July 2012 02:26

  • NCSF at AASECT 2012

      NCSF at AASECT  On behalf of NCSF, Jim Fleckenstein and Susan Wright attended the American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors and Therapists (AASECT) Annual Conference on June 8-10th in Austin, Texas. The NCSF booth in the Exhibit Hall featured free copies of NCSF’s newly refreshed guide: "What Psychology Professionals Should Know About Polyamory." 150 copies were given away to professional service providers courtesy of a grant by Alan of Polyamory…





    Written on Wednesday, 27 June 2012 01:33
    Tags: NCSF aasect

Support this program!

Media Outreach: We're Making a Difference

  • NCSF has successfully changed the discussion in the media by debunking stereotypes about BDSM, swinging, and polyamory
  • NCFS has developed a strong media outreach and training program for its coalition, supporting, and other partners.
  • NCSF has successfully become through dedicated advocacy, the leading media authority on BDSM, swinging, and polyamory

 

About Media Outreach

The Media Outreach Program is designed to reach outward to educate media and respond to media stories about alternative sex. In addition it is designed to reach inward to our own constituents to teach and train them in how to respond and deal with media effectively.

Program Goals:
The goal of the goal of the Media Outreach Program is to change the public discussion about alternative sexuality and to educate and support our members when they have occasion to deal with the media.
    Contacts:
    Support this program!
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    Reach out!