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News > World

WHO Stops Categorizing Transgender as ‘Mental Disorder’

  • WHO removed trans people from mental disorder category.

    WHO removed trans people from mental disorder category. | Photo: Reuters

Published 28 May 2019

Tragenders are no longer classified under the "mental disorder" category by the World Health Organization. 

The World Health Organization (WHO) no longer classifies being transgender as a “mental disorder,” the agency announced late last week. 


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The health agency updated its manual on diagnosing diseases, namely, the International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems (ICD-11), removing transgender identities from its highly-cited list of mental disorders.

Even though the decision to update the manual on the issue was taken up last June, it was only approved Saturday when the World Health Assembly, WHO’s governing body voted in favor of removing transgenders.

The changes will come into effect in January 2022.

The WHO also re-named “gender identity disorders” to “gender incongruence,” which is now listed under a chapter on “sexual health” instead of “mental disorder.”

LGBTQ activists welcomed the decision.

Micah Grzywnowicz, the co-chair of the executive board of LGBT+ advocacy group ILGA-Europe, said the update to ICD-11 "represents a monumental shift in the global health for trans and gender diverse people."

She added, "both the old category names and their corresponding content represent a history laden with struggle, oppression, forced medicalization, stigma and marginalization experienced by trans and gender diverse people in the context of healthcare." 

A joint statement from 65 intersex groups, however, criticized the update. A statement, released by Intersex Human Rights Australia, said that the current manual might cause "harm to people born with variations of sex characteristics.”

"The ICD-11 introduces normative language to describe intersex variations as 'disorders of sex development,'" the statement reads.

They are urging the WHO to "reform nomenclature and classifications to ensure that they do not facilitate human rights violations.”

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