The first field study was recently conducted in Mexico City to assess the transgender diagnosis listed in the mental disorders chapter of the World Health Organization’s (“WHO”) International Classification of Diseases. Senior author of the study, Professor Geoffrey Reed from the National Autonomous University of Mexico, explained that such diagnosis stigmatizes transgender individuals which, in turn, impacts legalization, human rights, and appropriate access to healthcare. These misconceptions have negatively impacted transgender rights across the globe, with many countries denying transgender individuals autonomy, such as in their legal documents and child custody rights.
The study consisted of interviewing 250 transgender individuals, ranging from 18 to 65 years old. The participants answered a series of questions, such as, when they first became aware that they were transgender, their experiences of gender, social rejection, violence, etc. Participants disclosed that they were often victims of violence and family rejection. Majority of participants cited their adolescent years as the highest period of distress.
The researchers believe that eliminating the transgender diagnosis from the WHO classification would be the first step in diminishing the stigma and abuse of transgender individuals. Dr. De Cuypere, from University Hospital in Belgium, and Dr. Winter, from Curtin University in Australia, stated: “‘Transphobia is a health issue’. This study prompts primary caregivers and psychiatrists to be aware of a ‘slope leading from stigma to sickness’ for transgender individuals, and to contribute to their mental health by a gender-affirmative approach.”
The study was published in The Lancet Psychiatry on July 26, 2016 and is now being replicated in Brazil, France, India, Lebanon and South Africa. These subsequent studies are being performed as an effort to build enough clinical evidence to remove transgender from the list of mental health disorders.
Tags: Clinical Ethics, Mental Health, Bioethics, Access, News, Gender Orientation