In what seems like a long-overdue step forward for the LGBTQ rights movement, the World Health Organization (WHO) has finally removed transgenderism (or “gender dysphoria”) from its list of mental disorders. The change was approved on May 25 after being introduced last year, and it signals an important shift in the way gender non-conformity is viewed by the medical community.
Graeme Reid, LGBT rights director at Human Rights Watch, said, “The WHO’s removal of ‘gender identity disorder’ from its diagnostic manual will have a liberating effect on transgender people worldwide. Governments should swiftly reform national medical systems and laws that require this now officially outdated diagnosis.”
One of the main reasons this change is so important is because governments around the world have used the previous classification as justification for discriminatory policies. Governments could require “gender diagnosis” and potentially dangerous procedures, like sterilization, before transgender people would be recognized by law. Hopefully, all of that is about to change.
According to Reid, “Transgender people are fighting stigma and discrimination that can be traced in part to medical systems that have historically diagnosed expressions of gender nonconformity as a mental pathology.”
Now that gender nonconformity has been erased from the mental disorder list, the stage is set for more thoughtful and progressive discussions about the role of gender in our community.