World Health Organization to Stop Classifying Trans People as Mentally Ill

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The World Health Organization (WHO) has decided it will stop classifying trans people as mentally ill, a change that is long overdue.

WHO will officially exclude “gender incongruence” as a part of the mental disorders section in their International Classification of Diseases catalog. Gender incongruence is the WHO’s term for gender dysphoria, meaning there is a conflict between the sex someone was born and the gender the person identifies with. It will instead be under a new chapter on sexual health conditions.

The change comes in order to combat stigma and discrimination that many trans people experience. “It was taken out from the mental health disorders because we had a better understanding that this wasn’t actually a mental health condition, and leaving it there was causing stigma,” says Dr. Lale Say, coordinator of WHO’s Adolescents and At-Risk Populations team, in a YouTube video.

Julia Ehrt, Executive Director of Transgender Europe, commends the change, “This is the result of tremendous effort by trans and gender diverse activists from around the world to insist on our humanity, and I am elated that the WHO agrees that gender identity is not a mental illness.”

Moving gender incongruence to a new section seems like a delayed decision for equality, but it should be somewhat helpful as it will still be categorized as a health issue. This new classification will still allow trans people to get health care without being viewed as mentally ill. The new chapter on the catalog will be in full effect come January 2022.