The long battle to remove transgender from the list of

List of Psychiatric Disorders

Disorders / March 16, 2020

020516114179 (Chris Pizzello/Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)


The medical community is one step closer to accepting that transgender men and women are in their right minds.

New evidence published in the Lancet Psychiatry journal on Tuesday supports no longer classifying transgender identity as a mental disorder under the World Health Organization and the American Psychiatric Association’s rubrics.

“It’s about time, ” Shakina Nayfack, a 35-year-old transgender actress from Manhattan, told the Daily News. “Being classified as mentally disabled is what enables people to paint a picture of trans people as mentally ill, and sexual predators, and things like that ... which enables other people to discriminate against us.”

The world’s main diagnostic manuals define experiencing stress and being unable to function as the major components of a mental disorder. But a Mexico City field trial that surveyed 250 transgender people determined that the distress and dysfunction they have experienced came from social rejection and violence, and not from being transgender per se, according to the report.

Statistics show that 72% of hate violence homicides in 2013 were transgender women. Transgender people of color were also six times more likely to experience physical violence from the police. And trans women were 1.8 times more likely to suffer sexual violence.

“Our findings support the idea that distress and dysfunction may be the result of stigmatization and maltreatment, rather than integral aspects of transgender identity, ” said lead investigator Dr. Rebeca Robles in a statement. “The next step is to confirm this in further studies in different countries, ahead of the approval of the WHO revision to International Classification of Diseases in 2018.” The study is now being replicated in Brazil, France, India, Lebanon and South Africa, and those results should come through over the next six months.

Yes, some trans people do experience gender dysphoria (or profound unease with the gender assigned to them at birth) and benefit from medical and psychological treatment as they discover their true identify. But classifying “gender incongruence” as a mental illness creates barriers for trans men and women trying to access medical care.

“The perception that transgender people must be treated by psychiatric specialists has limited [their] access to health services, ” senior author Dr. Geoffrey Reed told the Daily News. “Some countries have imposed burdensome requirements for psychiatric evaluation before services can be administered.”