World Health Organizations Says Being Trans Is Not A Mental Disorder

Today, the World Health Organization announced the release of the International Classification of Diseases-11. The revision comes 18 years after the last ICD was implemented. In a historic move, hard fought by trans groups and advocates as well as experts and professionals, being trans is no longer considered a mental disorder. The ICD-11 will face a final approval process in May 2019 which will pave the way for national level implementation.

The following is a transcription of the a Q&A with Dr. Lale Say, Coordinator, Department of Reproductive Health and Research on Gender Incongruence in ICD-11, explaining the revision. The video is embedded at the end of this blog post.

What is different about the way gender incongruence is categorized in Internal Classification of Diseases-11?

Gender incongruence is a marked and persistence incongruence between a person’s experienced gender and assigned sex. Historically, his concept was placed in the Mental Health Chapter in ICD, but in the ICD 11 it is moved to a newly created chapter of Sexual Health. Sexual Health chapter is created for ICD 11 to give place to conditions related to sexual health but do not necessarily fit to the other chapters in ICD.

Why was it taken out of mental disorders?

It was taken out from mental health disorders because we had better understanding that this wasn’t actually a mental health condition and leaving it there was causing stigma. In order to reduce stigma while also ensuring access to necessary health interventions this was placed to a different chapter, the Sexual health chapter in the new ICD.

What implications does the change of category have?

Removing Gender Incongruence from mental health chapter is expected to reduce stigma and will help better social acceptance of individuals living with Gender Incongruence. In terms of healthcare provisions we don’t expect much change because this category will still have a place in IC,  in fact it may even increase access because it will reduce stigma and it will help individuals to seek care more.

Was the decision made mainly on the basis of advocacy from patient groups?

Certainly it is crucial to listen and hear the voices of the patient groups, and we use this in many of our works, but in this case the decision was not only based on the advocacy or feedback from the concerned communities. All available evidence was reviewed and discussed by n 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. Similarly we had another 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.

Watch video: