The U.N. health agency known as the World Health Organization (WHO) announced that individuals who claim to be transgender no longer have a mental illness.
Anticipating the upcoming publication of the 11thedition of its International Classification of Diseases (ICD), the WHO states it has removed gender incongruence from its list of mental illnesses in order “to reduce the stigma” that may come with claiming to be a gender that is incongruent with one’s actual biological sex. The WHO states the move will promote “better social acceptance of individuals living with gender incongruence.”
“It was taken out from mental health disorders because we had better understanding that this wasn’t actually a mental health condition,” said Dr. Lale Say, the coordinator of the adolescents and at-risk populations team at the WHO. “Leaving it there was causing stigma, so in order to reduce the stigma, while also ensuring access to necessary health interventions this was placed to a different chapter, the sexual health chapter, in the new ICD.”
“The decision was not only based on the advocacy or feedback from the concerned communities,” she continued. “All available evidence was reviewed and discussed by an external advisory group and together with the scientific basis of this condition and the feedback from the professional community and concerned communities formed the basis of this decision.”
Say referenced a similar decision “on removing homosexuality out of ICD completely.”
“This again was based on the scientific understanding that there was no clear evidence that this issue needs to be medicalized,” she said.
According to PinkNews, psychologist Geoffrey Reed – who coordinated the ICD’s mental health and behavior sections – said the result of the WHO’s removal of transgenderism as a mental health disorder will be easier access to appropriate care.
“The intention is to reduce barriers to care,” he said.
The WHO states the version of ICD-11 that will be presented to the World Health Assembly in 2019 will go into effect officially on January 1, 2022.
“While there will be a few early adopters, not many countries are likely to adapt that quickly,” the WHO states, adding that the United States only switched to ICD-10 – which was released in 1990 – in 2015.
Other changes to mental health disorders in ICD-11 include a new gaming disorder, a hoarding disorder, and reclassification of “excessive sexual drive” as “compulsive sexual behaviour disorder.”