In a historic moment, the World Health Organisation (WHO) released the official version of the ICD-11 in which all trans-related categories were removed from the chapter of Mental and Behavioral Disorders. In response to the achievement, Joe Wong the Executive Director of APTN stated that “the removal of trans-related categories from the ICD chapter of Mental and Behavior Disorders is a great accomplishment and reveals the decades-long work that trans people have been working for globally. This is a necessary step on the path to ensure the dignity, rights and protections of trans people”.
The pathologisation of trans identities as incorporated in the previous versions of the ICD have contributed to the stigmatisation, discrimination, and misrepresentation of trans people. The medicalisation of trans identities have created additional barriers to accessing care and human right for trans communities globally. The damage and impacts of the decades of pathologisation of trans identities still needs to be healed. It is with much dedication and resilience that our trans communities from all over the world has worked to demedicalise and remove trans-related topics from the chapter on mental and behavioral disorders. The continued use of sensitisation, education and consulting with trans communities is essential to continue to reduce stigma and still ensure accessibility to necessary gender affirming care and upholding the dignity, protection, and autonomy of trans individuals. Many trans and diverse people around the world have severely suffered the impact of pathologization or have their identities invalidated.
While the implementation and acceptance of the ICD-11 by countries will require continued advocacy and education, this marks a historic shift in the treatment and social acceptance of diverse gender identities. There continues to be aspects in the ICD-11 regarding trans-identities that need continued revision to better address the needs and rights of trans people and we encourage greater collaboration between trans communities and health and policy practitioners. Committed and organized advocacy will be more needed than ever to ensure effective implementation at the country level, to remove pathologizing regulations while ensuring trans identities are recognise before the law and full access to gender affirming healthcare.
APTN is among many trans activists, international organisations, academics and health officials that have advocated for the reclassification of trans identity-related diagnoses from the ICD. This reclassification is an important step to further the dignity, protection, and justice for trans communities globally. Across the world and within the Asia and the Pacific region, there needs to be increased dialogue and adoption of the most current revision of the ICD-11 accompanied by a bold reaffirmation of our ultimate goal where full depathologization is grounded in human rights and, particularly, on universal access to healthcare.
Other APTN products about ICD and transgender health issues:
Expanding the Circle: A multi-country workshop series on comprehensive trans healthcare
Publication download: Removal of gender incongruence of childhood diagnostic category: a human rights perspective, The Lancet Psychiatry, Volume 3, No. 5, p405–406, May 2016
Video: Standing Up for Trans Rights
Trans-led organisations work on depathologisation:
Publication download: GATE’s Gender is not an Illness