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Activists ‘gobsmacked’ after Camden Council lists ‘transsexualism’ as a ‘mental illness’

Stefan Nichols May 8, 2014
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Campaigners in Camden’s LGBT community were outraged after it was revealed that “transsexualism” had been listed alongside mental illness on Camden Council housing forms.

The High and Ham reports representatives of Camden’s transgender community condemned the term “transsexualism” as “insensitive and upsetting”.

The term appeared in the same bracket as dementia, severe alcoholism and schizophrenia.

LGBT campaigners fear the north London local authority risk upending efforts that have tried to rid the trans community of a stigma that branded its members mentally ill

Nigel Harris, director of Camden’s LGBT forum, said: “My colleagues and I were gobsmacked to see it on the list.

“Firstly, the word transsexualism is archaic and loaded with connotations that bring back memories of discrimination and of it being seen as a disease.

“The fact that it’s listed alongside such serious mental illnesses is also very upsetting to the trans community, and it could cause real tensions if people are led to believe what the council are saying.

“As of 2012, transsexualism and gender dysphoria are no longer diagnosed as a mental illness. Defining it as such is completely outdated and really quite offensive.”

Although gender dysphoria is no longer considered a mental illness, medical professionals currently view it is as a condition experienced as distress relating to one’s assigned or perceived sex or gender identity.

Council bosses initially argued their category listing was one taken from international medical guidelines.

However, it was noticed that the council was using out-dated manuals that even considered being gay to be a mental illness.

A council spokesperson said: “The council has not sought to cause offence; however, gender identity disorders are classified by medical professionals within the category of mental health and are diagnosed as such.

“We always seek to promote inclusion and equality across the community regardless of race, religion, gender and sexuality.

“After speaking to our medical assessment officer we will be changing the following terms on our forms; ‘mental illness’ to ‘mental health condition’, and ‘transsexualism’ to ‘gender dysphoria’.”

Related topics: Camden, council, gender dysphoria, LGBT, London, mental illness, stigma, trans community, Transgender

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