The World Health Organization (WHO), a specialized agency of the United Nations concerned with international public health, no longer classifies being transgender as a mental illness.
This past Monday, WHO removed all trans-related categories from mental disorders in the International Classification of Diseases (ICD). The categories were then moved to a new a category of sexual health conditions.
WHO hopes that removing being transgender from mental disorders will help to decrease stigma and any feelings of shame a transgender person may experience for their identity.
“The rationale being that while evidence is now clear that it is not a mental disorder, and indeed classifying it in this can cause enormous stigma for people who are transgender, there remain significant health care needs that can best be met if the condition is coded under the ICD,” the WHO report states.
Additionally, moving the category to sexual health conditions helps to validate a transgender individual's identity by making clear that the discrepancy between one’s biological sex and gender is both real and legitimate. Lastly, the change will also guide medical professionals.
“The intention is to reduce barriers to care,” Geoffrey Reed, a psychologist who coordinated the mental health and behavior disorders section of the ICD, told The New York Times.