If you’ve been out as a map in any context even briefly, you probably were told that your attractions are a sickness and that you need to “get help”. Or maybe you saw the Wikipedia page on pedophilia, one of the few pages with restrictions on editing, that states pedophilia is a psychiatric disorder.
In most cases this is not a honest mistake about the nature of your attractions that can be corrected after you cite the proper researchers or describe in detail why exactly you believe the feelings you experience to be healthy. This is an attempt to discredit your agency and personhood. “Maps are mentally ill” serves as a logical bridge to “maps don’t control themselves, don’t know what’s best for them and their close ones, and can’t be trusted to roam free without supervision”, because this is how the majority of people interpret the concept of a mental illness.
In general, people branded as sexual deviants often are treated like this, because the society has no roles for sexual feelings besides “normal, healthy, functional” and “abnormal, disordered, rapidly deteriorating”. Sexual deviance is interpreted as getting worse and worse, going from mildly socially inappropriate kinks to larger taboos. Gay people have been subjected to this stereotype, kinky people have been too, and very often their pushback was only “no, we’re normal, we’re healthy”. This gave them situational relief, but did nothing to uproot this entire approach to sexuality and did not secure their position long term.
Which brings me back to the ableism of “maps are mentally ill”. It’s not the assumption that you may be mentally ill that is your enemy, it’s the idea that mentally ill people (and you together with them) cannot be allowed to be in charge of their lives and need to be isolated from the rest of the society. By placing the main emphasis on how healthy you are, you’re reaffirming that mentally ill people are a threat, only you are not a threat, because you are healthy. Which is a disservice to mentally ill maps and to non-map mentally ill people, who deserve a better life too.
This doesn’t mean every instance of saying your orientation is not a disease needs to be accompanied with advocacy for mentally ill people. Sometimes you’ll need a shorter way out of a discussion, sometimes dumping the DSM on your opponent’s head is exactly what will get them to leave you alone and impress the onlookers. But you need to base your main self-defense on something other than having a “healthy sexuality”. You need to not try to put yourself above maps who say their orientation is caused by trauma or something similar, maps who fit the diagnostic criteria of pedophilic disorder. In general, say whatever you need to say to come unharmed out of unpleasant interactions with antis, but build your views around knowing that the norm is an inherently oppressive part of life, not a desirable thing to be included in.
You can see a similar problem in neurodivergent communities. Many tend to get very offended at hearing that pedophilia is a disorder and insist on classifying it as an act of sexual abuse. All while certain mental disorders, like POCD, NPD, ASPD, sometimes more, are stereotyped as disorders of child predators. Other mentally ill people sometimes exclude these disorders from their communities out of fear. And this stigma from all sides – the society and the marginalized communities – falls heavier on the people who share both the minor attraction and the stigmatized disorders.
I admit it took me a long time to notice this pattern, even though I fit in the group of people I just mentioned. It wasn’t till Twitter made up “healthy paraphiles” that I went “wait, no, I’m not healthy even if I don’t have a paraphiliac disorder”. But I’ve said it before and I’ll keep saying it – for as long as your defense for your existence is that you’re normal, marginalized minorities will need to be added to the norm one by one. And it’s better to attack the norm instead of attacking being labeled abnormal.