Liberate will be launching a new web resource addressing trans issues in the next few weeks – watch this space!
SHOULD WE STOP LABELLING GENDER DYSPHORIA AS A DISEASE?
As a gay man, I remember a time when the World Health Organisation (WHO) classified homosexuality as a disease. Indeed it was not until the 1990’s that it was taken off the International Classification of Diseases (ICD10) by the WHO. It made me think why do we still classify gender dysphoria as a disease?
Gender dysphoria simply defined is:
“the condition of feeling one’s emotional and psychological identity as male or female to be opposite to one’s biological sex”.
The ICD10 classifies it as “Gender Identity Disorder in Adolescence and Adulthood” (Diagnosis Code: F64.1).
As an advocate of equality, I am acutely aware of the link of prejudice to mental health and wellbeing. According to a recent study, 48% of trans people under the age of 26 had attempted suicide in the preceding 12 months (PACE 2014).
By classifying it as a disease are we reinforcing societal prejudices? Prejudice feeds upon ignorance and fear. I believe it does not help Trans people in terms of their own acceptance of their identity if they think that it is a disease or mental disorder. It can stigmatise and actually do more harm than good.
Indeed, it was the comments from one Trans friend this week which made me start to think along these lines when they said they were experiencing difficulty with their dysphoria.
Evidence from other cultures, including the “two-spirit” native Americans and Samoa, suggests that transgender people do just fine in their cultures. The fact that they do not fit the gender binary of male and female is simply accepted and they are included fully in their society. If our society was as accepting maybe it would not be an issue?
That said, there is a positive in the classification in terms of accessing psychological and physiological therapies to help members of our community who identify as Trans, even if groups like Liberate have had to lobby for State recognition and funding to help our Trans friends.
I wonder whether it is time we addressed this medical stigmatisation? Or will we be doing more harm than good?
Let’s open the debate!
Chair (Guernsey) & Co-founder, Liberate