Finally, being transgender is no longer classified as a mental health disorder by the WHO

embers of the LGBT community take part in a protest to demand justice after a transgender Honduran woman, who was part of the caravan of Central American migrants that arrived at the U.S. border earlier this month, died in detention/ Reuters

After many years of controversy, the World Health Organisation has finally removed ‘gender incongruence’, which is how the WHO refers to transgender and queer identities, out of mental disorders.

The public health agency announced the news in a statement:

Gender incongruence, meanwhile, has also been moved out of mental health disorders in the ICD, into sexual health conditions.

The rationale being 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.

Psychologist Geoffrey Reed called recommended that WHO remove genderqueer identities from its mental health and behaviour disorders section in this year's edition of its codebook, called th International Classification of Diseases, back in 2016.

Despite WHO’S decision, trans rights remains a wrought topic. In the UK, the current iteration of the Gender Recognition Act – which governs how trans people can have their gender identity legally recognised – remains a point of contention for many trans people.

According to LGBT+ charity Stonewall, the law requires trans people to undergo a “series of intrusive medical assessments and long, demeaning and bureaucratic interviews with psychiatrists in order to ‘prove’ their gender identity." The charity continues:

It requires trans people to have a formal diagnosis of ‘gender dysphoria’, to live in their ‘acquired gender’ for two years, and hand over evidence supporting all of this to a gender recognition panel.

Rebecca Stinson, Head of Trans Inclusion, Stonewall told indy100:

Being trans is not a mental illness and it’s great to see the WHO recognise this. Trans people seeking support need to be accepted for who they are.

Now we need to see change in Britain. Reforming the 2004 Gender Recognition Act (GRA) would be a huge step forward towards trans equality. Under the current system, trans people have to be diagnosed with a mental illness to apply for a Gender Recognition Certificate (GRC), and non-binary people aren’t recognised at all. Replacing this dehumanising process with a system of self-determination would be life-changing for so many trans and non-binary people in Britain.

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