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Being transgender is (finally) no longer seen as a mental illness by the WHO

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Harvey Day
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Being transgender is (finally) no longer seen as a mental illness by the WHO 3

This is a positive step for members of the transgender community 

Step by step, society is slowly making moves to better embrace and understand transgender people – and members of the trans community now have one less thing to worry about with the announcement that the World Health Organisation, an international public health agency of the United Nations, no longer recognises being transgender as a mental illness.

Transgender people are, of course, those who identify as a different gender to the sex they were assigned at birth.

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And on Monday the WHO issued a new catalogue of 55,000 diseases in which they discreetly recategorised being trans as a “condition related to sexual health” instead of the former definition as a “mental, behavioural and neurodevelopmental disorder,” according to The Guardian.

Lale Say, the coordinator of WHO’s department of reproductive health and research, said: “We think it will reduce stigma so that it may help better social acceptance for these individuals.”

This is the first update of the WHO’s International Classification of Diseases catalogue since the 1990s and will now need to be approved during the World Health Assembly in Geneva next May.

It will take effect from January 1, 2022 if it is adopted.

Trans activist, filmmaker and founder of @mygenderation Fox Fisher told ShortList: “It’s definitely a positive step. It marks an important step for trans people, and it will help to combat stigma and discrimination.

“It’ll help to combat stigma surrounding gender identity and trans people will no longer have to subject themselves to a diagnosis of a mental disorder to get life-saving health care. And it will make a massive difference to people’s attitudes towards what being trans really is: a human experience.”

Fox, who is non-binary trans and uses they/them pronouns, added: “It’s frustrating that it has taken this long and that the voices of trans people have been silenced on this for so long, but I am glad that we are finally being listened to and allowed to take control of our own lives and stories.” 

(Image: Getty)