The World Health Organisation (WHO) has removed being transgender from the International Classification of Diseases (ICD), declassifying it as a mental illness.
On Monday the World Health Organization (WHO) published the latest version of the International Classification of Diseases (ICD-11), which moves “gender incongruence” to a new chapter, Conditions Related to Sexual Health.
WHO says gender incongruence is characterised as a “marked and persistent incongruence between an individual’s experienced gender and the assigned sex.”
Previous versions of the ICD classified trans identities under Mental and Behavioural Disorders.
“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,” the WHO’s report explained.
Dr. Michael First, a professor of clinical psychiatry at Columbia University and the chief technical consultant to the new edition of the codebook, said the change “is sending a very strong message that the rest of the world is no longer considering it a mental disorder.”
“One of the benefits of moving it out of the mental disorder section is trying to reduce stigma,” he said.
Transgender Victoria spokesperson Sally Goldner told Gay Star News the change was “a huge boost for trans and gender diverse people.”
“It’s big because a powerful organization is sending an affirming message saying being trans is part of human diversity rather than pathologizing us,” she said.
Australian Transgender Support Association Queensland (ATSAQ) secretary Kristine Johnson welcomed the WHO’s decision but cautioned against any reduction in public funding or insurance coverage of trans people’s medical services as a result of the change.
The new classifications are set to be adopted by member states next year, before they are expected to take effect in January 2022, giving countries time to implement the changes.