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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, May 31, 2019 - Volume 47 Issue 22
Trans health issues no longer 'disorders,' WHO says
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Trans health issues no longer 'disorders,' WHO says

New manual revises classification

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

Transgender health issues will no longer be classified as mental and behavioral disorders, according to the new World Health Organization (WHO) global manual of diagnoses.

The new version, titled ICD-11, removes Trans health issues from the chapter on mental and behavioral disorders and places them in the chapter on sexual health. A WHO spokesperson said the group now understands that Transgender is 'not actually a mental health condition.'

Changes to the diagnostic manual were first discussed last year and approved at the World Health Assembly on May 25. Countries will have until January 2022 to put the changes in place.

In some countries, Japan for example, individuals currently need a mental health diagnosis to make a legally recognized change to their gender.

Dr. Lale Say, a reproductive health expert with WHO, 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.'

Trans issues are now defined as 'gender incongruence,' in other words 'a marked and persistent incongruence between a person's experienced gender and assigned sex.'

In the previous version of the manual, ICD-10, this was considered a gender identity disorder and treated in the chapter entitled 'Mental and Behavioral Disorders.'

Commenting on the revisions, Graeme Reid, LGBT rights director for Human Rights Watch, said the changes would have a 'liberating effect on transgender people worldwide.'

'Governments should swiftly reform national medical systems and laws that require this now officially outdated diagnosis,' he added.

Nine organizations working on gender identity issues said in a joint statement, 'It has taken us a long time to get here. Until a few years ago, removing pathologizing categories affecting Trans and gender-diverse people from the ICD-10 list of mental disorders seemed impossible.

'Today, we know that full depathologization can be achieved and will be achieved in our lifetime.'

The statement added that '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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