On June 18th, 2018, The World Health Organization ceased categorizing non-normative gender identities as a product of mental illness, signaling a sharp reversal from a historically harmful perspective.
It was not until 1974 that being gay stopped being categorized as a mental disorder in the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. And it was not until 2013 that “gender identity disorder,” attributed to people who did not conform to the gender commonly associated with the sex they were assigned at birth, was changed to “gender dysphoria,” which is characterized by a “conflict between a person's physical or assigned gender and the gender with which he/she/they identify.” Additionally problematic is that the APA still determines gender dysphoria through a mental health model, whereas many health professionals and organizations believe a general medical model is more appropriate.
Problematic medical classifications often make medical and health services difficult and unsafe for kweer folx because their gender identities are viewed as medical problems/issues that need to be fixed. This formal policy change by the WHO can help to better ensure that kweer folx can access vital medical and health services without the perception that they are mentally ill. While there is still much more work that needs to be done to change attitudes and make social spaces more accessible for kweer folx, this event signifies a shift towards more acceptance and inclusion of kweer folx in the medical community.
What Is Gender Dysphoria? (American Psychiatric Association)
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