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WHO ICD-11 guideline rules out transgender as a mental disorder

A piece of positive news is out for the LGBTQ+ community. World Health Organization has finally decided to rule out transgender as a mental disorder. The decision came about on May 25 in the annual WHO meeting to discuss the revisions of the International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems. A number of prominent changes were discussed and debated. For example, the committee put forward the proposal to categorize video addiction as a health illness. Similarly, a large consensus was also reached to disregard transgender as a mental disorder.

The decision is believed to yield a plethora of benefits for the LGBTQ+ community. First and foremost, it will lead to greater inclusion of the members within the societal spectrum. Second and more importantly, the revised guidelines will completely transform the way we perceive the transgender terminology.

Transgender: A mental disorder?

The ICD-10 guidelines contained a long list of gender identity disorders. The list was documented in consultation with neuro-psychotherapist who perceived transgenders as mentally disabled people. These guidelines formulated five diagnoses of gender identity disorders:

  1. Transsexualism
  2. Dual-role Transvestism
  3. Childhood Gender Identity Disorder
  4. Other Identity Disorders
  5. Unspecified Identity Disorders

The fourth and the fifth diagnosis remained largely ambiguous with no consensus sort of reach. Although, the formulators of the list are adamant that gender identity disorders can consist of numerous types that are currently unknown.

That being said, Transsexualism category was the one most frequently talked about. The official definition stated that the individual will fall under the definition of transsexual if they live with severe discomfort with the gender they have been assigned at birth. That means there is a sheer desire to live a life opposite to the gender written on the birth certificate. For example, an individual with a male on the birth certificate would(or want to) exhibit qualities of a female. This entire assigned gender identity nonconformity process would often propel the person to undergo hormonal surgeries.

What are the revised guidelines?

The previous ICD-10 guidelines made it very clear that transgender qualifies as a mental disorder. However, the new ICD-11 revised guidelines directly refute the propositions of the former. The biggest change introduce is a complete erasure of the Gender Identity Disorder section. Being a transgender is no longer considered as a pathological condition. A desire to orient one’s identity different from what is documented on the birth certificate is now regarded as acceptable and normal.

Rather interestingly enough, transgender is now categorized as Gender Incongruence, a sexual health phenomenon. Accordingly, under this new section, there are three subcategories, gender incongruence of childhood, adulthood and unspecified.

To put the analysis further into perspective, gender incongruence of adulthood is the desire of an adult to transition to a different gender. Which really means that there has been an elimination of main categories with definitions remaining the same.

Just stating the definition differently may itself have a big positive impact. It will completely alter the way we perceive the LGBTQ+ community, particularly transgender individuals. Those who were previously considered to be a mentally disabled person(s) will now not be regarded so. The new guidelines are henceforth an attempt to greater inclusivity.

Areeba Hussain

Areeba is an independent medical and healthcare writer. For the last three years, she is writing for Tophealthjournal. Her prime areas of interest are diseases, medicine, treatments, and alternative therapies. Twitter @Areeba94789300

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