Gender dysphoria no more a mental disorder; its reclassification by WHO to help fight stigma - Sovereign Health Group
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06-26-18 Category: Mental Health

Gender dysphoria no more a mental disorder; its reclassification by WHO to help fight stigma

The World Health Organization (WHO) recently announced that it will not consider gender dysphoria as a mental disorder anymore, reclassifying it as a sexual health condition. Renaming it as “gender incongruence,” this major revision has been incorporated in the 11th edition of the International Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems (ICD), a standard diagnostic tool that establishes a standardized diagnosis coding for medical professionals.

Gender incongruence is a condition in which an individual’s emotional identity is different from physical identity. It makes one develop strong feelings of identification with the opposite gender and feel discomfort with one’s own natural sex. Categorizing gender incongruence as a sexual health condition give transgenders a chance to stay away from the mental health stigma while continuing to receive the required medical assistance for their present illnesses.

The American Psychiatric Association (APA) also confirmed that people with this condition often experience pain and issues due to the conflict between the way they feel about themselves and their real gender. Even though the condition is no longer treated as a mental illness, the APA said that there are still a number of treatment options available for the condition, such as counseling sessions, cross-sex hormones, puberty suppression and gender reassignment surgery.

Will it lose insurance cover?

The decision by the WHO is likely to affect the insurance claims by transgenders who undergo any sort of treatment. Michelle Cretella, MD, FCP, president of the American College of Pediatricians, said, “If gender dysphoria  is not a mental or physical disorder, then prescribing toxic appearance-altering drugs, and the surgical alteration or removal of healthy body parts is merely cosmetic. As such, insurance is not obligated to pay for it.”

Gender dysphoria has always been used as a general term to represent a group of conditions identified in people dealing with dissociative identity disorder, signaling comorbidity, said Walt Heyer, a former transgender who now aims at helping those who feel guilty of their gender change.

He said the condition reflects the same group of sexual, emotional, psychiatric and psychological comorbid disorders, which include anxiety, depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), body dysmorphic disorder, schizophrenia and autogynephilia. Heyer said the condition can be caused due to a number of factors like a traumatic childhood experience which stems from lack of psychological, psychiatric or pastoral attention.

Step towards reducing mental health stigma

Reclassifying gender dysphoria as a sexual condition and removing the tag of a mental disorder may help curb the associated stigma. This in turn would help ensure more and more transgenders open up and seek help if they are affected by any mental illness.

A number of treatment options are available for those dealing with any mental illness. However, it is also important to make sure that an individual’s illness is accurately diagnosed before designing any treatment plan. If you or someone you know requires help, Sovereign Health can help through its network of state-of-the-art mental health treatment centers and addiction rehabs.

Sovereign Health operates some of the best rehabs in the U.S. that offer comprehensive mental health treatment to enable fast recovery. Through our well-trained professionals, we make sure that the customized treatment is offered to each patient at our mental health treatment facilities. For more information about our evidence-based treatment programs, you may call us at our 24/7 helpline or chat online with one of our representatives.

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