Study: Transgender distress stems from rejection and violence, not a mental disorder

Study: Transgender distress stems from rejection and violence, not a mental disorder August 8, 2016

A new study confirms further evidence that the distress faced by many transgender individuals stems from social rejection and violence, and recommends that it would be appropriate to remove the diagnosis of transgender from its current classification as a mental disorder in the WHO International Classification of Diseases (ICD).

The study published in The Lancet, and led by the National Institute of Psychiatry Ramón de le Fuente Muñiz, involved interviewing 250 transgender people and found that gender incongruence was not one of the underlying factors in distress and dysfunction of the individuals.

Since the factors in the distress and dysfunction of transgender individuals are environmental, not mental, the suggestion to remove it as a mental disorder seems appropriate.

“Our findings support the idea that distress and dysfunction may be the result of stigmatization and maltreatment, rather than integral aspects of transgender identity,” said lead investigator Dr. Rebeca Robles, Mexican National Institute of Psychiatry.

“The next step is to confirm this in further studies in different countries, ahead of the approval of the WHO revision to International Classification of Diseases in 2018.”

The study is currently being replicated in Brazil, France, India, Lebanon, and South Africa, and those results could certainly change our entire understanding of the transgender community and dealing with solving the issues around suicide, rejection, and the growing violence against individuals.

“Stigma associated with both mental disorder and transgender identity has contributed to the precarious legal status, human rights violations, and barriers to appropriate care among transgender people,” said senior author Professor Geoffrey Reed, National Autonomous University of Mexico.

“The definition of transgender identity as a mental disorder has been misused to justify denial of health care and contributed to the perception that transgender people must be treated by psychiatric specialists, creating barriers to health care services.”

“The definition has even been misused by some governments to deny self-determination and decision-making authority to transgender people in matters ranging from changing legal documents to child custody and reproduction.”

One shocking item researchers discovered during the study was just how high the rate of violence was for transgender individuals.

“Rates of experiences related to social rejection and violence were extremely high in this study, and the frequency with which this occurred within participants own families is particularly disturbing,” Robles said.

“Unfortunately, the level of maltreatment experienced in this sample is consistent with other studies from around the world. This study highlights the need for policies and programs to reduce stigmatization and victimization of this population. The removal of transgender diagnoses from the classification of mental disorders can be a useful part of those efforts.”

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