The World Health Organization (WHO) will no longer categorize transgender people as mentally ill.
On Monday, the WHO announced “gender incongruence,” the organization’s definition for someone who identified differently from the sex they were assigned at birth, will be taken out of the mental disorders chapter in their International Classification of Diseases (ICD) catalogue.
Gender incongruence will now be added to the WHO’s sexual-health chapter.
“We expect [the re-categorization] will reduce stigma,” Lale Say, the co-ordinator of WHO’s department of reproductive health and research, told AFP earlier this week. “We think it will reduce stigma so that it may help better social acceptance for these individuals.”
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The proposed document changes, which will have to be approved in Geneva in 2019, will take effect on January 1, 2022, if it is approved, the organization adds.
Say continued that since the WHO’s catalogue is often used by doctors and insurance companies to determine coverage, and transgender is no longer considered a mental-health condition, this can even improve health care for some.
“The rationale being that while evidence is now clear that it is not a mental disorder, and indeed classifying it in this can cause enormous stigma for people who are transgender, there remain significant health-care needs that can best be met if the condition is coded under the ICD,” experts at WHO said after the announcement.
AFP notes other countries including France and Denmark have also taken transgender out of their classification of mental-health illnesses, and Say notes these changes will easily be approved, even though transgender people continue to face barriers and stigma across the world.
Julia Ehrt, executive director of Transgender Europe, released a statement on Monday following the WHO’s decision.
“This is the result of tremendous effort by trans and gender diverse activists from around the world to insist on our humanity, and I am elated that the WHO agrees that gender identity is not a mental illness,” Ehrt said in a statement.
Transgender Europe adds that in the past, “the pathologization of gender identity through ICD” has added stigma, discrimination, harassment, criminalization, and abuse for gender identity and expression.
“We call upon policymakers to follow suit and base legal gender recognition and gender-affirming healthcare solely on self-determination of the person.”
CNN notes in 1990, the WHO also stated: “sexual orientation alone is not to be regarded as a disorder.”
And as part of the WHO’s revamp, video-game addiction was also listed as a mental-health problem on Monday, confirming the fears of many parents with teens who play video games.
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