- Denmark becomes the first nation in the world to declassify transgenders as being mentally ill.
- The new decision in Denmark comes as the country reports an increasing number of young transgenders accessing services.
- Despite the change, people must still undergo long psychiatric proceedings before they can be eligible for hormone treatment or a sex change operation.
Denmark has become the first country to stop tagging transgender people as mentally ill. Being transgender is not a mental disorder.
Denmark's decision puts it ahead of the rest of the world in terms of trans acceptance.
‘Disassociation of transgenders with mental illness will help to remove the stigmatization associated with being a transgender.’
The World Health Organization (WHO) still classifies being transgender as a mental condition alongside kleptomania and pedophilia.
Though the WHO is planning to change that, it could take a long time. The WHO had not removed homosexuality from its list of mental disorders until 1990.
The progressive nation announced the plan for the reclassification back in May 2016.
The proposal to declassify sexual orientation in the International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems was first put forward to the WHO in 2014, but a decision is not expected until sometime later in the year.
Denmark's Health Minister Sophie Lohde expressed frustration with the pace of the WHO which is planning to address the issue. The minister said Denmark was no longer prepared to wait for the global organization.
Soren Laursen, head of the Danish LGBT national association told that the move would remove the stigma associated with being transgender.
"The change is symbolic, but important. It's important for transgender people to not be branded mentally ill when we are not." Linda Thor Pedersen, a spokesperson for LGBT Denmark said.
Thor Pederson said that during the discussion with the country's health department, it was ensured that words including 'dysphoria', 'incongruence', 'disorder' or 'problem' would not feature any more.
The new decision in Denmark comes as the country reports a spur in the number of young transgender people accessing services.
The Sexological Clinic at Rigshospital in Copenhagen had expected to assist around 50 young people each year, but had over 130 clients in 2016.
Like most countries, gender reassignment surgery in Denmark is not allowed until after a person is 18 years of age. But a person can undergo hormone treatment, which is reversible, before turning 18 years.
Before a person is given access to hormone replacement therapy or sex reassignment surgery he/she must undergo rigorous psychological assessment.
The change in classification does not make any change to the amount of psychological assessment a person must undergo.
The move to remove the classification was supported by all political parties.