Study Highlights Fallacy of Mental Health Diagnosis for Transgender Individuals

Researchers suggest World Health Organization change classification in 2018
Researchers suggest World Health Organization change classification in 2018

HealthDay News — Being transgender is currently classified as a mental health disorder in the World Health Organization International Classification of Diseases, but a new study, published online July 26 in The Lancet Psychiatry, suggests that should change.

For the new study, researchers interviewed 250 transgender people. The team found that levels of distress were more strongly influenced by social rejection and violence than by being transgender. Seventy-six percent said they suffered social rejection due to being transgender. This rejection most often came from family members, followed by schoolmates/coworkers, and friends. Nearly two-thirds were victims of violence due to their gender identity.

"Our findings support the idea that distress and dysfunction may be the result of stigmatization and maltreatment, rather than integral aspects of transgender identity," lead investigator Rebeca Robles, PhD, from the Mexican National Institute of Psychiatry in Mexico City, said in a journal news release. She added that these findings need to be confirmed with additional studies before the next approval of the revision of the WHO International Classification of Diseases in 2018.

"Unfortunately, the level of maltreatment experienced in this sample is consistent with other studies from around the world," Robles said. "This study highlights the need for policies and programs to reduce stigmatization and victimization of this population. The removal of transgender diagnoses from the classification of mental disorders can be a useful part of those efforts."

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