World Health Organization Finally Stops Classifying Trans People as Mentally Ill


On Monday the World Health Organization (WHO) announced that it will cease to classify transgender identity as a mental disorder.

CNN reports the announcement came in WHO’s 11th International Classification of Diseases (ICD) catalog. “Gender incongruence,” which is the organization’s term for people whose gender identity doesn’t correspond to what they were assigned at birth, now appears in a sexual health chapter rather than a chapter on mental disorders.

“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,” Dr. Lale Say, coordinator of WHO’s adolescents and at-risk populations team, in a report from HuffPost.

WHO first publicly considered the move to declassify trans as a mental disorder in 2016, but some objected to the idea that it would be moved to the sexual health section. “I think there is a bit of a problem with the idea of putting it in a chapter on sexual health because it has nothing to do with sex,” Dr. Griet De Cuypere, psychiatrist and board member of the World Professional Association for Transgender Health told the New York Times. “If it’s possible to have it more separately, it would be better.”

Before being termed “gender incongruence,” transgender identities were referred to as “sexual deviations” (in 1968), a “psychosexual disorder” (in 1980) and a “sexual and gender identity disorders” (in 1994.) The change is reminiscent of when WHO declared homosexuality a mental disorder in 1948, later removing it from the International Classification of Diseases in the 1970s.

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