After listing video game addiction as a potential mental health disorder, the World Health Organization has also removed “gender incongruence” (essentially transgenderism) from their list of mental, behavioral, and neurodevelopmental disorders. The change is part of WHO’s newest International Classification of Diseases, a medical guide that hadn’t been updated in almost 30 years. WHO says that it will now classify being transgender as a sexual health condition in an effort to diminish stigma and improve medical care for transgender individuals.
In terms of reducing the stigma of being transgender, this is a historic moment, but it’s also a practical one. Increasing the number of care options for transgender people is vital because of the depression brought on by trauma and prejudice, particularly during the teen years. A recent study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that, while contemporary teens are having less sex and doing fewer drugs, the number of them suffering from depression and suicidal thoughts has skyrocketed since 2007. Beyond that, teens who are also part of the LGBTQ community are even more likely to deal with depression than their peers who aren’t.
A 2016 study by the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center found that 30 percent of transgender youth surveyed had reported at least one attempted suicide. Moreover, 42 percent had a history of cutting or some other form of self-harm.
“Our study provides further evidence for the at-risk nature of transgender youth and emphasizes that mental health providers and physicians working with this population need to be aware of these challenges,” said Claire Peterson, a psychologist at Cincinnati Children’s and lead author of the study. “Dissatisfaction with one’s appearance and the drive to look different from one’s sex assigned at birth is central to gender dysphoria — the feeling that your gender identity is different from that at birth.”
A remarkable 63 percent of respondents in the 2012 National Transgender Discrimination Survey said that they ‘d “experienced serious acts of discrimination—events that would have a major impact on a person’s quality of life and ability to sustain themselves financially or emotionally,” of which medical discrimination is one.
While changes to the newest International Classification of Diseases were just announced, they don’t go into full effect until January 1st, 2022.