From Bad To Worse: World Health Organization Reclassifies Transgender As a Sexual Health Condition
On Monday, June 18th, The World Health Organization announced that in its most recent edition of the International Classification of Diseases, people who identify as Transgender will no longer fall under the category of suffering a mental illness. Many activists around the globe applauded this decision. The justification for the reassignment of Trans-identifying humans to another chapter of the book was that it might help reduce the stigma and bias that its previous classification promoted. From their website:
“During a meeting held in Antigua, Guatemala in May 2000, an expert group convened by the Pan American Health Organization and WHO in collaboration with the World Association for Sexology (WAS) compiled an overview of sexual concerns and problems that should be addressed in order to advance sexual health (PAHO/WHO 2000). Sexual health concerns are life situations that can be addressed through education about sexuality and society-wide actions in order to promote the sexual health of individuals. The health sector has a role to play in assessment, and in providing counselling and care.”
In May of 2000. 18 years ago, and the conference from then has imposed the changes made just last Monday.
So, where did they relocate us to in their renowned Classification of Diseases Directory Revision?
Under the category: “Sexual Health Problems.”
You read that right. Now, the state of identifying as Transgender is considered, officially, a “Sexual Health Condition.” While not a mental illness, an illness, nonetheless, but this time, a sexually-related one. I sit in absolute amazement at the overwhelming support this amendment has provoked from organizations, allies and even some Trans folks. In a statement, the advocacy group Transgender Europe (TGEU) called the decision a “historic achievement.”
Excuse me? That’s like saying, “Hey, we’re not mentally impaired anymore, now we’re just sexually abnormal.”
For most Trans men and women, there is nothing- I repeat- nothing wrong with the state of their sexual health. To point out what others have done thousands of times over the years, probably more eloquently than I intend to here; Sexuality has nothing to do with gender or gender identity. Our sexual behaviors and performance, just as is the case with our cisgender counterparts, is not dictated or impeded by our gender identity.
Identifying as a Transgender individual is not indicative of a sexual disparity by comparison to anyone else. Our sexual interests are not abnormal exclusively because we are Transgender people. Most transgender people, whether they identify as gay, lesbian, straight, bisexual, pansexual, demisexual or asexual, are not a collective suffering a sexual health issue.
While many were overjoyed that the state of existing as a Transgender human being has been declassified as a mental illness, few seem to consider the damage that reclassifying us as “Sexually incorrect” will inflict upon us.
Politically, it will favor those conservatives who have deemed us sexual deviants; Specifically transwomen, who they claim are disguising themselves as women in order to infiltrate, in some perverse, covert operation, women’s public bathrooms. Religious leaders and Republicans have had a hyper-focus on the sexuality of transwomen to perpetuate the irrational fear that we are a threat to their wives and young daughters. Radical feminists have malignantly leveraged the sexuality of transwomen to accuse them of feigning womanhood with the intent of “Forcibly penetrating lesbians by pretending to be women.”
Rape. They’re calling transwomen rapists. Without any precedence and motivated by pure prejudice, they aggressively spread misinformation to incite fear and hatred toward transgender women by creating a false, harmful narrative regarding our sexual proclivities.
By reclassifying the state of being transgender as a “Sexual Health Issue,” the WHO is not reducing stigma. They’re not reducing prejudice. Whereas before, when it was determined- albeit incorrectly- as a mental illness, at least to provoked some semblance of sympathy. Now, we’re just a decidedly sexually skewed individual whose behaviors are “Incongruent” with our biologically assigned gender.
Again, they're disregarding the irrefutable science that gender identity and sexuality are mutually exclusive. The occurrence of one being transgender is not influenced or caused by an individuals sexuality- or the function of their sexual health.
World Health Organization spokesperson, Dr. Jennifer Conti said this to USA today after the announcement:
“By changing the class of this condition, the WHO is effectively saying to everyone and to the world that this is not a mental disorder and we support people who are transgender,” Conti said. “It’s a really meaningful step because it promotes inclusivity, it promotes acceptance.”
I am not fond of being classified under the same broad category as Male erectile dysfunction, sadism and pedophilia or someone whose sexual pattern place myself or others at risk for HIV “and/or other STIs.” However, our opposition will love it.
In a disastrous move, the WHO has provided ammunition to the politicians, evangelicals and conservatives who continue to campaign against our inclusion and normalizing in mainstream society.
While transgender individuals require specialized medical care from a medical community that largely lacks appropriate training in treatment protocols and simple sensitivity, our transgender status has nothing to do with the function of our sexual practices or overall health. Being transgender has less to do with our sexuality than it does for any man or woman- straight or gay- who enjoys receiving anal sex. Yet, most bigoted conservatives claim that alone is indicative of a sexual health defect. It’s important to note, this document released by the WHO does not reference the sexual habits of LGB people specifically- only transgender people. It identifies, with its categorical context as the sole sect of society posing a risk to ourselves and others- not a vulnerable people at risk for prejudicial social violence and murder based on our status. It does not bother to investigate the high rates of depression, anxiety and suicide- not as a result of being transgender- but the hostile social and political climate that makes it increasingly difficult to thrive as emotionally sound, mentally stable human beings. A climate in which no person who is constantly targeted by the state, demonized by evangelists and persecuted by those consuming propaganda could ever thrive. Many of us do, in fact, suffer from mental illness, but it’s not because we’re transgender. It’s because we’re abused, degraded and in a state of perpetual danger as a result of who we are.
The WHO dismisses all the evidence that proves without a doubt that transgender people would, in fact, not suffer the disproportionate mental and emotional health afflictions we do if we were not constantly dodging attacks from those in power who create laws and perpetuate mythologies that cause us immense psychological damage.
This reclassification does not help.