'Leaving It There Was Causing Stigma': Being Transgender Dropped As Mental Health Disorder By WHO

The World Health Organisation now classifies 'gender incongruence' as 'conditions related to sexual health'.

Being transgender is no longer classified as a mental health disorder by the World Health Organisation.

The United Nations’ health agency on Tuesday released its latest international classification of diseases, known as the ICD-11, which categorises ‘gender incongruence’ under a newly created chapter on sexual health.

Up until now, it had been classified as a mental health disorder.

“We have a better understanding that it isn’t actually a mental health condition and that leaving it there was causing stigma,” Dr Lale Say, Coordinator of the Department of Reproductive Health and Research, said.

“In order to reduce the stigma while also ensuring access to necessary health interventions, it was placed into the sexual health chapter.”

Being transgender falls under ‘gender incongruence’, defined by the WHO as a “marked and persistent incongruence between an individual’s experienced gender and the assigned sex”.

Dr Say said while listening to patient groups was crucial, the decision was formed based on reviewed scientific evidence and feedback from the professional health community.

The WHO only removed homosexuality from its ICD classification with the publication of ICD-10 in 1992.

The ICD contains about 55,000 codes that are used to identify global health trends and statistics diseases, injury and causes of death.

Director Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said it is one of the “least known health products”.

“All our systems need good information about the reasons people get sick and die -- from the common cold to the deadliest diseases like Ebola,” he said.

“Good data helps our systems to respond to these trends and to allocate resources accordingly. The ICD helps countries to do that.

"As our knowledge of our diseases and conditions changes, so does the ICD."

More than 10,00 proposals for revisions were considered for ICD-11, according to the Director. 

Other changes include the addition of gaming disorder to the section under addictive disorders. 

The new classifications will be submitted in January next year, before they are expected to take effect in January 2022.