The European Parliament has passed a resolution calling for the World Health Organisation to stop classifying transgender people as mentally ill.

‘Gender identity disorder’ is currently classified as a ‘mental and behavioural disorder’ in the WHO’s International Classification of Diseases.

Many transgender people and clinicians prefer to use the term ‘gender dysphoria’. While the causes are not yet known, research has suggested genetic and hormonal reasons.

The WHO’s International Classification of Diseases is currently under review with the next list to be finalised in 2015.

Until 1990, the body classed homosexuality as a mental illness.

Dutch MEP Emine Bozkurt, who authored the amendment, said: “Transgender identities are still considered a mental disorder by the World Health Organisation. This must be changed urgently, and certainly by the time the next version comes into effect in 2015.

“Transgender people wishing to live in a body that matches their identity are of course entitled to medical treatment and its benefits, but the negative stigma surrounding them must stop.”

Spanish MEP Raül Romeva i Rueda, the vice-president of the LGBT intergroup, added: “Considering transgender people mentally ill means they are not free to decide for themselves, and are often disrespected by the medical profession, their employers and their families.

“This call sends one clear message to the commission and the WHO: the pathologisation of gender identity must stop, as the pathologisation of homosexuality ended in 1990.”