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Transgender no longer recognised as 'disorder' by WHO

Published: May 30, 2019 16:59:44 | Updated: June 04, 2019 16:11:32


Transgender health issues will no longer be classified as mental and behavioural disorders under big changes to the World Health Organization's global manual of diagnoses.

The newly-approved version instead places issues of gender incongruence under a chapter on sexual health.

A World Health Organization expert said it now understands transgender is "not actually a mental health condition".

Human Rights Watch says the change will have a "liberating effect worldwide".

In the latest manual, called the ICD-11, gender incongruence is defined as a marked and persistent incongruence between a person's experienced gender and assigned sex.

In the previous version - ICD-10 - this was considered a gender identity disorder, in the chapter entitled mental and behavioural disorders.

Dr Lale Say, a reproductive health expert at the World Health Organization, said: "It was taken out from mental health disorders because we had a better understanding that this was not actually a mental health condition, and leaving it there was causing stigma.

"So in order to reduce the stigma, while also ensuring access to necessary health interventions, this was placed in a different chapter."

Commenting on the revisions, Graeme Reid, lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender rights director at campaign group Human Rights Watch, said the changes would have a "liberating effect on transgender people worldwide".

He added: "Governments should swiftly reform national medical systems and laws that require this now officially outdated diagnosis."

Meanwhile, nine organisations working on gender identity said in a joint statement: "It has taken us a long time to get here. Until a few years ago, removing pathologising categories affecting trans and gender diverse people from the ICD-10 list of mental disorders seemed impossible.

"Today, we know that full depathologisation can be achieved and will be achieved in our lifetime."

The statement added: "Although placement in this chapter is an improvement, it is by no means perfect. For example, it is somewhat reductive to define trans health as related only to sexual health.''

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