U.N.’s World Health Organization Removes ‘Transgender’ as Mental Disorder

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The U.N.’s World Health Organization (WHO) has officially removed the term “transgender” from the classification of mental disorders.

As expected, during WHO’s annual assembly in Geneva on Saturday, the member states adopted the 11th edition of the International Classification of Diseases – the first update of the classification list in 29 years.

Ken Zucker, editor of Archives of Sexual Behavior, tweeted the announcement:

According to the U.N. health agency, gender identity disorder is no longer classified as a mental disorder, NHK World Japan also reported. Instead, gender identity disorder will be called “gender incongruence.”

WHO said those who claim to be of a gender that is incompatible with their biological sex should be guaranteed medical treatments and surgeries to make them sterile.

Since last year, WHO has stated it would be removing 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. WHO said 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 WHO, in June 2018. “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.

In April, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released a “Dear Colleague” letter that contained serious warnings about the high prevalence and risk of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) among transgender individuals.

“According to current estimates, about 1 in 7 (14%) transgender women have HIV, and the percentage is much higher among black/African American (44%) and Hispanic/Latina (26%) transgender women,” said CDC, a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). “An estimated 3% of transgender men have HIV.”


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