Last week, the World Health Organization (WHO) made a historic change to its list of mental disorders by removing transgender from it. It’s the culmination of a move by the organization last year, when it decided to remove gender dysphoria from its classification of behavioral and mental disorders.
The WHO voted on the revision last May 25, making it so that transgender and gender non-conformity are no longer recognized as mental disorders.
The revision also comes a week after the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia, which is intended to commemorate the declassification of homosexuality as a mental disorder by the WHO. It is intended to “draw the attention of policymakers, opinion leaders, social movements, the public and the media to the violence and discrimination experienced by LGBTI people internationally.”
As pointed out by the Human Rights Watch (HRW) to Gay Star News, the classification of transgender and gender non-conformity as a mental disorder has been used as the basis for discriminatory policies. Some of these policies include the government requiring a gender disorder diagnosis before allowing transgender people to change their names and gender markers on official documents. Some governments also ask transgender people to be sterilized before they are recognized before the law.
Graeme Reid, the LGBT rights director at the HRW, said that medical interventions should be separated from the process for legal recognition of gender identity.
“Transgender people are fighting stigma and discrimination that can be traced in part to medical systems that have historically diagnosed expressions of gender non-conformity as a mental pathology,” he said. “But it’s the stigma, discrimination, and bullying – and not anything inherent in gender nonconformity – that can inflict mental health problems in transgender people.”
Transgender readers of the Adam4Adam blog, how do you feel about this new declaration by the WHO? How helpful will it be in changing discriminatory policies where you live? Share your stories with us in the comments section below.