Being transgender no longer classified as a mental illness

Posted at 10:40 PM, Jun 21, 2018
and last updated 2018-06-22 00:40:18-04

Being transgender is no longer considered a mental illness.

The World Health Organization announced this week they’re reclassifying being transgender in hopes of destigmatizing it.

"It’s about time," Jessie Pocock, Executive Director of Inside Out Youth Services said.

Up until Monday, being transgender was officially considered a mental illness.

"Seeing a movement towards the health community recognizing that being transgender isn’t actually a mental health disorder feels like a real strong victory for the LGBT+ community," Pocock said.

This week, the WHO decided they will no longer classify being transgender that way in the International Classification of Disease.

"One of the parts that’s so important about this decision is an affirmation of there’s nothing wrong with who you are," she said.

Pocock works with transgender teens everyday. She says, with the stigma associated with being transgender, teens that identify as such are more likely to commit suicide.

"They’re five times as likely in Colorado to attempt suicide so these are young people who are really getting the message that who they are isn’t ok," she said.

The United Nations Health Agency, which sets the standard for medical professionals across the world says labeling transgender a mental illness was causing a stigma, so they changed what was once called a "gender incongruence" to a "sexual health condition" instead.

"These changes hopefully will really start transforming our society to be more inclusive, caring, loving, accepting, etc.," she said.

And keep in mind, up until the 1970’s, this is how the WHO also classified homosexuality, as a mental disorder.

"So we’re certainly way behind in terms of rights for transgender people here in America and obviously the world, but this is a step in the right direction," she said.

Colorado law protects those who identify as transgender with getting the medical care that they need, but the WHO says this should also improve care for transgender folks across the world.