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WHO changing the way it classifies transgender identity

The World Health Organisation (WHO) is considering changing the way it classifies transgender identity.

It came following calls from researchers and advocates to remove it from the WHO?s list of mental disorders, reports theIndependent. A study led by the National Institute of Psychiatry in Mexico suggested that transgender people struggled to access health care services due to this classification. This study was published in the Lancet Psychiatry journal

“Stigma associated with both mental disorder and transgender identity has contributed to the precarious legal status, human rights violations and barriers to appropriate care among transgender people,” said the study’s senior author Professor Geoffrey Reed, of the National Autonomous University of Mexico.

“The definition of transgender identity as a mental disorder has been misused to justify denial of health care and contributed to the perception that transgender people must be treated by psychiatric specialists, creating barriers to health care services,” he continued. “The definition has even been misused by some governments to deny self-determination and decision-making authority to transgender people in matters ranging from changing legal documents to child custody and reproduction,” added professor.

The study interviewed 250 transgender people in Mexico and found that violence and social rejection rather than questions about their gender identity led to “distress and dysfunction.” Researchers will now carry out the same study in other countries.

The WHO is reportedly considering the reclassification when it revises its list of mental and behavioural disorders for 2018, and there has allegedly not been any opposition to the reclassification of transgender identity from within the organisation. It is hoped that the reclassification would help to remove the stigma experienced by transgender people.

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