WHO moves on trans classification welcomed

WHO moves on trans classification welcomed

June 19, 2018

An international health agency’s removal of transgender identities from its list of mental disorders should be reflected in legislation currently before the NZ Parliament, the Human Rights Commission (HRC) says.

Yesterday the World Health Organization (WHO) published online the latest version of the International Classification of Diseases (ICD-11), which places all trans-related categories in a new chapter, Conditions Related to Sexual Health. Previous versions of the ICD classified trans identities under Mental and Behavioural Disorders.

“This is fantastic news,” Commission spokesman Taine Polkinghorne said today. “It will be crucial in reducing the stigma around trans and gender diverse people.

“We urge the Government Administration Committee, currently considering submissions including ours, to recommend amending the Births, Deaths, Marriages, and Relationships Registration Bill so trans and gender diverse people can easily change the sex recorded on their birth certificates.”

Mr Polkinghorne, the Commission’s advisor on sexual orientation, gender identity and sex characteristics (SOGISC),  said the evidence-based WHO change reflected what the trans community, activists, and organisers have been fighting for. “Belonging to the trans or gender diverse community does not equate to having a mental disorder. We should not be pathologised nor discriminated against,” he said.  

A 2008 report by the Human Rights Commission found that transgender people experienced discrimination, stigmatisation and marginalisation more than other New Zealanders.

“The WHO move, while a welcome step, does not mean the work is finished,” Mr Polkinghorne said.

“Let’s seize this opportunity and step up efforts to end discrimination for trans and gender diverse communities.”