Trans advocates globally are celebrating the World Health Organization’s (WHO) ‘huge’ decision to remove gender dysphoria from its classification of mental and behavioral disorders.
Gender dysphoria defined someone who had a disorder of personality or behavior related to gender.
WHO updated its International Classification of Diseases (ICD), described as ‘the international standard for reporting diseases and health conditions’. The latest revision is known as ICD-11.
In ICD-11, WHO created new categories covering trans identities under conditions relating to sexual health.
It has renamed gender dysphoria to gender incongruence and removed its classification as a mental disorder.
WHO describes gender incongruence as ‘characterized by a marked and persistent incongruence between an individual’s experienced gender and the assigned sex’.
Trans advocates across the world have welcomed the new classifications.
‘It is huge,’ Sally Goldner, media spokesperson for Transgender Victoria told Gay Star News.
‘It’s big because a big powerful organization is sending an affirming message saying being trans is part of human diversity rather than pathologizing us.’
‘This is a huge boost for trans and gender diverse people’.
A long fight
The decision is vindicating for trans advocates who have fought hard for this change. But it should also clear legal hurdles for trans people around the world.
‘This is one obstacle out of the way to get equitable regulations,’ Goldner said.
‘It says “hey this is a variation and that’s all it is”.’
The ICD is an influential marker for lawmakers and medical health professionals around the world.
‘The ICD is a product that WHO is truly proud of. It enables us to understand so much about what makes people get sick and die, and to take action to prevent suffering and save lives,’ said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General.
Member States will adopt ICD-11 at the World Health Assembly in May 2019 and will come into effect on 1 January 2022. That will give countries time to plan how to use the new version, prepare translations, and train health professionals all over the country.