The new category will reduce stigma and hopefully lift barriers for those who need healthcare.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has moved gender incongruence (transgender) from its list of mental health disorders in the Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems (ICD) to a revised chapter for sexual health. This new chapter is included in the revamped ICD-11.
Dr Lale Say, Coordinator, Adolescents and at-Risk Populations Team at the World Health Organization says, "It was taken out of mental health disorders because we have better understanding that this is actually not a mental health condition and leaving it there was causing stigma. In order to reduce the stigma while also ensuring access to necessary health interventions this was placed to a different chapter; the mental health chapter."
WHO says the changes to the ICD is to allow easier coding by healthcare providers, not mental health professionals which are in short supply:
"For mental health conditions, ICD codes are especially important since the ICD is a diagnostic tool, and thus, these are the conditions that often garner much of the interest in the ICD.
These include gaming disorder, which evidence shows is enough of a health problem that it requires tracking through the ICD. Other addictive behaviours such as hoarding disorder are now included in ICD-11, and conditions such as ‘excessive sexual drive’ has been reclassified as ‘compulsive sexual behaviour disorder.'
"A significant change in the mental disorders section of ICD-11 is the attempt of statisticians to simplify the codes as much as possible to allow for coding of mental health conditions by primary health care providers rather than by mental health specialists. This will be a critical move since the world still has a scarcity of mental health specialist – up to 9 out of 10 people needing mental health care don’t receive it."
The World Health Organization removed homosexuality as a mental illness from ICD-10 in 1992.