WHO drops transgender from list of mental health disorders

In a historic move, the World Health Organization (WHO) approved a legislation according to which henceforth, being a transgender will no longer be considered a mental health disorder. The declaration was made on May 25, 2019 by the World Health Assembly, the governing body of WHO, represented by 194 member states. It is believed that this move will not only liberate the trans and non-binary people by increasing acceptance and awareness but also bring some radical changes in national policies the world over.

Millions of advocates and activists supporting transgender across the globe, along with an emerging scientific awareness about the lives of these people has been instrumental in pushing this legislation. Graeme Reid, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) rights director at Human Rights Watch, stated that this exclusion of gender identity disorder by the WHO from its diagnostic manual will emancipate the transgender people across the world. He further added that now the need of the hour is to discard this official old-fashioned diagnosis and accordingly make changes in the national laws and medical systems.

Transgender people face oppression and discrimination

Reid maintained that even though an individual’s gender uniqueness is not affected by their mental health concerns, the persecution of trans people can cause a lot of distress. According to him, the transgender population is subjected to a lot of discrimination and stigma, especially because since time immemorial, the medical community has been screening gender non-conformity as a pathological mental illness. However, it is not the gender fluidity that presents problems, it is the associated victimization, discernment, and the stigma that can perpetrate mental illnesses in the transgender community that causes the problems.

Reid’s views were substantiated by Jack Drescher, a psychiatrist whose work is dedicated to sexuality and gender. Drescher stated that there is considerable data that supports that the transgender status and mental illnesses are linked with stigma which can pave the way for unwarranted legal issues, violations of human rights, and even hurdles to appropriate medical facilities for this population. The WHO declaration might be a groundbreaking, however, a lot needs to be done still. In the UK, a diagnosis of mental health status is imperative for a person to modify their gender marker. To annul this requirement, the administration vowed to reform the Gender Recognition Act in 2018. This move was made after multiple assemblies campaigned in the UK to walk on the footprints of countries like Ireland, Norway, Greece, Portugal, and France that allow its citizens to self-identify their gender.

In the meantime, the trans rights differ in the different states in the U.S. For instance, Californians can apply for a new driver’s license or a new ID card on the basis of their self-certification. On the other hand, in some states, including Ohio, it is not possible to change an individual’s gender on their birth certificate regardless of circumstances or an individual’s self-certification.

Seeking help for mental illnesses

The mental illnesses grappling the transgender people are not a result of their different sexual identity, but is essentially driven by the social disgrace, discrimination, and violence they are subjected to. Accordingly, it is important that people belonging to this population are no longer looked down upon as someone with mental diseases and be provided with ample access to health care facilities.

Regardless of the gender you identify yourself with, 24/7 Mental Health Helpline can help you seek treatment for your mental health disorder. We are connected with various behavioral health centers and can help you look for credible mental health treatment centers that provide evidence-based mental health treatment programs. Talk to a representation from our mental health rehabilitation helpline center by calling our 24/7 helpline 855-653-8178. You can also chat online with a representative for further assistance.