Transgender No Longer A “Disorder” According To World Health Organization

Published on May 31, 2019

In order to take a step toward releasing the stigma surrounding being Transgender, the World Health Organization has opted to remove Transgender from its list of diagnosable disorders. The decision to remove Transgender from the list has been pushed for quite some time, with proposals going back into mid-2018. Human rights advocacy groups and mental health professionals around the world are praising the decision as a step in the right direction. In order for cultures and government organizations to take Transgender people seriously, the World Health Organization needed to make the distinction that the gender identity is not a type of diagnosable disorder.

How Does WHO Have Control Over This?

The World Health Organization (better known as WHO) is responsible for designating what is and isn’t considered a disorder. For example, the organization also opted to add things like video game addiction to the list of disorders within its list of mental health issues. The decision to add video game addiction came after studies showed that the disorder can be linked to things like a gambling addiction, particularly when it comes to games that require in-game purchases in order to win the game. While a video game addiction may be a real, diagnosable disease, being Transgender is simply a form of gender identity and should not be designated as something that requires treatment.

Instead, the World Health Organization has decided to amend its definition of the identity, focusing instead on health issues that impact transgender populations worldwide. The organization hopes that removing the identity from its list of disorders will encourage governments to amend their laws surrounding how healthcare systems provide coverage to transgender patients. “It [being transgender] was taken out from mental health disorders because we had a better understanding that this was not actually a mental health condition, and leaving it there was causing stigma,” said a reproductive health expert at the World Health Organization, named Dr. Lale Say.

Response To The Changes

Human rights advocates and LGBTQ groups around the world are supporting the decision, agreeing that it was the logical step that the World Health Organization needed to take in order to do its part in reducing the stigma surrounding being transgender. Transgender people around the world, statistically, face greater adversity when trying to receive proper healthcare. In addition to the hardships that transgender people experience regularly surrounding equality toward healthcare, the marginalization of transgender people shows that, statistically, they’re at a higher risk for being denied equal rights in the workforce, and are at a higher risk of violence and hate crimes.

The support of the World Health Organization means that worldwide governments are being forced to recognize that transgender people are in need of equal access to healthcare. Since the World Health Organization is the leading authority when it comes to matters of healthcare and public health safety, it leaves little excuse for marginalization of these groups. In many cases, even in countries that are seemingly accepting, culturally, of transgender folk, it can still be hard to receive proper healthcare and access to medications needed to transition properly. By acknowledging that being transgender isn’t a disorder, it pushes doctors one step further toward being able to give these people proper healthcare.


Julia Sachs is a former Managing Editor at Grit Daily. She covers technology, social media and disinformation. She is based in Utah and before the pandemic she liked to travel.

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