The World Health Organization (WHO) has announced that being transgender will no longer be classified as a mental illness in the new International Classification for Diseases (ICD), the ICD-11.
Many activists and transgender people have praised the measure, which was announced Monday, saying it will help fight the stigma and violence faced by members of the community and aid in improving access to the necessary medical services needed to transition.
WHO said “gender incongruence” would be considered a “sexual health condition," and explained that “while evidence is now clear that it is not a mental disorder, and indeed classifying it in this can cause enormous stigma for people who are transgender, there remain significant health care needs that can best be met if the condition is coded under the ICD.”
However, demands for the total declassification of trans-sexualism as a “health condition” remain despite the justification by the WHO, which says it aims to reduce barriers to healthcare.
The Latin American trans rights group, Transgender Project, has celebrated WHO’s announcement but criticized the fact that they still classify being transgender as a “gender incongruence."
In an interview with teleSUR, Nua Fuentes, a trans-feminist activist, and spokesperson for the Trans Pride World platform said: “It is positive, but it is nothing new. Trans organizations were expecting this, and we have been demanding the end of the pathologization of our identities since 2007.”
Fuentes argues that the move is incomplete because being trans is still included in the disease manual “through words like gender incongruence and experienced gender, which would have us think that there is a real identity that would be cisgender or heterosexual identity and a secondary trans identity. We don’t want this hierarchy.”
Homosexuality was removed from the ICD in 1992 with the publication of the ICD-10. The ICD-11 will be presented to all WHO member states for ratification in May 2019, during the World Health Assembly. Its implementation is scheduled for January 2022 when it will replace the ICD-10, which has been used since the early nineties.
The new classification also includes a chapter on traditional medicine and medicinal practices and includes gaming as an addictive disorder.