For what seems like forever, various sexual and gender identities have been condemned by the general public as well as health officials. Homosexuality was considered a mental disorder by the ICD up until as late as 1992, proving that socially revising the way the world sees LGBTQ+ individuals will consistently remain a work in progress. However, it seems there may be hope for the future of LGBTQ+ people, specifically those that reside under the “T.”
On Monday, June 18, the year 2018 was marked as a year of potential progress for those in the transgender community. The World Health Organization (WHO) has revised the description of transgender people from within the ICD, rewording the concept as “gender incongruence” rather than its former “gender identity disorder.” Not only is the act of being transgender veiled in a different name, it has been relocated from the mental disorder category to the sexual health side of things, presumably to make health care more accessible for the vast majority of transgender individuals, and coding this identity under the ICD is the best possible way to ensure trans patients’ needs are met.
“We’ve historically misclassified a lot of conditions in medicine because of a combination of stigma, fear and misunderstanding,” professionals note, which feels almost like a breath of fresh air. “It 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.”
All of this may seem like a victorious outcome for transgender individuals, however, the outcome of this move is relatively bittersweet. For many, from within the trans community as well as out, this action is seen as progress, and officials from the World Health Organization note their support toward individuals of different gender identities, claiming it “a really meaningful step.”
Along with this, though, is the insatiable desire for transgender people to just simply be accepted into society as equals, and the shock that this step took as long as it did. Some even argue that the term “gender incongruence” is equally as dismissive as “gender identity disorder,” as it classifies assigned sex as the true identity of a person, and pushes the true perception of their gender to the side, almost as a secondary identity. Nua Fuentes, spokesperson of the Trans Pride World platform notes that “It is positive, but it is nothing new. Trans organizations were expecting this, and we have been demanding the end of the pathologization of our identities since 2007.” She argues that the move is not yet complete, that being classified as a “health issue” in any way equates cisgender to be the default, invalidating the presence of experienced gender.
Whether entirely inclusive or not, the thought was definitely there for the WHO, and the gesture can perhaps be appreciated by trans individuals to at least a certain extent.
Photo: Associated Press