Gender Incongruence is not a mental disorder, WHO reaffirms in ICD-11 report

Namrata Devikar
Friday, 22 June 2018

Gender incongruence is defined as a condition in which a person feels distressed because the gender they were assigned at birth according to their sex does not match their internal feelings

Pune: The World Health Organisation (WHO) has confirmed that gender incongruence is no longer classified as a mental disorder in International Classification of Diseases (ICD-11). The basic idea behind this as stated by WHO is to reduce stigma and improve care for transgenders.

Gender incongruence is defined as a condition in which a person feels distressed because the gender they were assigned at birth according to their sex does not match their internal feelings. Speaking to Sakal Times, Shyam Konnur, an activist who works for the rights of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people from Pune, said that this is a positive step.

“I hope positive step by hospitals, including and especially government hospitals, like good service, separate wards, and training of staff to treat people equally are taken. There are few fights that the transgender community is going through in the country. Also, a lot of corporates are advertising inclusivity, which is a good sign. I hope that brings in change,” said Konnur.

Echoing similar sentiments, Sarang Punekar, a transgender student and activist at Savitribai Phule Pune University (SPPU), said that such inclusive steps are a positive sign. 

“The community will benefit at large. Moreover, it will be easier for doctors, nurses and transgenders to have an option on the patient form to choose ‘other’ in the option of gender. If that is specified, the doctor and the nurse will know how I must be treated. This is very important for us,” said Punekar.

Talking about inclusive initiatives, Dr Manjeet Santre from the Psychiatry Department of Sassoon General Hospital (SGH) said that the Directorate of Medical Research (DMER) and Maharashtra University of Health Sciences (MUHS) have conducted workshops and initiatives to impart gender sensitivity. “There has been an effort to include gender sensitivity topics in the medical curriculum as well as to make the future doctors more gender inclusive,” said Santre.

Expressing similar thoughts, Dr Shirisha Sathe, a psychologist working with ILS Law College, said that human rights have nothing to be do with gender or cross-dressing. “The focus of human rights is based on what makes us human. Sexual orientation has nothing to do with equal rights. This is a much needed and awaited step that WHO has taken. It is a positive thing that now it is recognised globally. The sexual orientation should not affect the quality of life of any person,” said Sathe.

WHO’s ICD-11 report
The International Classification of Diseases (ICD-11), issued by WHO, provides a way to map the changing patterns of diseases based on social perspectives. ICD also captures factors influencing health, or external causes of mortality and morbidity, providing a holistic look at every aspect of life that can affect health.

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