WHO to Declassify Transgender Identity as a Mental Disorder

Jul 28, 2016 12:00 AM EDT

World Health Organization is planning to declassify transgender identity as a mental disorder following a study showed that social rejection and violence are the main reason for distress and dysfunction and not the gender incongruence by itself.

The study, published in the journal The Lancet Psychiatry, revealed that the classification of transgender identity as a mental disorder created stigma and maltreatment against the transgender community, leading to the psychological distress and dysfunction.

"The definition of transgender identity as a mental disorder has been misused to justify denial of health care and contributed to the perception that transgender people must be treated by psychiatric specialists, creating barriers to health care services," explained Geoffrey Reed, a professor at National Autonomous University of Mexico and senior author of the study, in a statement. "The definition has even been misused by some governments to deny self-determination and decision-making authority to transgender people in matters ranging from changing legal documents to child custody and reproduction."

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Times reported that UCLA's Williams Institute estimated a total of 1.4 million transgender in the United States. Of those, 80 percent were transgender women. About 76 percent of the participants in the study reported social rejection because of their gender and approximately 63 percent of them experienced violence due to their gender.

At present, transgender identity is classified as mental disorder in both WHO's ICD-10 and American Psychiatric Association's DSM-5, which are the world's main diagnostic manual.

WHO is making its move to removed transgender identity as mental disorder in their International Classification of Diseases in hopes to lessen the stigma. However, it will not be removed entirely from the codebook. Instead, it will be classified under a new category called conditions related to sexual health.

According to the report form New York Times, the proposed change has been approved by each committee and is currently under review to be put in the revised volume of the codebook to be approved on May 2018.

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