Scientists urge World Health Organisation to declassify trans identity as ‘mental disorder’
The World Health Organisation (WHO) is facing renewed calls to remove transgender identity from its list of mental health disorders.
A study published in the Lancet says the WHO needs to stop incorrectly classifying trans identity.
It suggests that the classification has led to discrimination, difficult legal statuses and obstacles to healthcare for trans people.
There have been suggestions of how the WHO could change its classification of trans identity before its new edition of the International Classification of Diseases is released in 2018.
“The definition of transgender identity, as a mental disorder has been misused to justify denial of health care and contributed to the perception that transgender people must be treated by psychiatric specialists, creating barriers to health care services”, says senior author of the study, Professor Geoffrey Reed from the National Autonomous University of Mexico.
“The definition has even been misused by some governments to deny self-determination and decision-making authority to transgender people in matters ranging from changing legal documents to child custody and reproduction”.
Going on, the professor suggests that trans identity does not meet the requirements to be classified in such a way by the WHO.
For a condition to be defined as a mental disorder by the WHO it must cause distress and impairment of functioning for the affected individual.
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The scientists behind the study looked into whether gender dysphoria could cause the problems in order to classify it in such a way as a result of that, or because of the reactions of people around them.
Around 250 trans people, 80 percent of who were trans women, were interviewed for the study.
More than three-quarters of the participants said they had experienced social rejection linked to their trans status.
63 percent of those asked had been victims of violence, physical, psychological and sexual.
The study has been welcomed by LGBT rights charities.
A study also published in the Lancet last month found that trans people have inadequate access to healthcare and support.