A Study Confirms That Being Transgender is NOT a Mental Disorder

A Study Confirms That Being Transgender is NOT a Mental Disorder


Foto: David Silverman/Getty Images

Although society has become more and more accepting of the transgender community in the past few years, thanks to activists such as Laverne Cox and Caitlyn Jenner, there is still a strong stigma surrounding it.

Many people, and even medical institutions, have believed for decades that being transgender is the result of a mental illness. Even the WHO’s International Classification of Diseases (ICD) still categorizes a transgender diagnosis as a mental one. It’s not surprising though, considering that for many years homosexuality was also treated as a disorder. But as with homosexuality, being transgender has inspired various studies that have lead to further comprehension and understanding that it is not a mental illness.

The newest one was published on Tuesday in The Lancet Psychiatry journal, where the findings show that the cause of mental distress is not from being transgender, but from the social rejection and violence that many of them have to endure due to their gender identity.  As the researches on the study concluded, “Distress and dysfunction were more strongly predicted by” living those traumatic experiences compared to the “gender incongruence itself.” Conducted in Mexico’s National Institute of Psychiatry Ramón de la Fuente Muñiz, 260 transgender adults were enrolled, interviewed, and thoroughly studied. Similar studies are now being replicated in other countries such as India and Brazil.

Now, what’s so vitally important about their conclusion is that it affects how the transgender community is being treated in medical and healthcare settings, as well as how they are perceived in society. In places where they are considered to have a mental illness, they might be forced to get psychiatric care rather than they physical care that they need instead. 

According to a study, published earlier this year, by UCLA’s Williams Institute, they estimate that 1.4 million Americans identify as transgender. 76% of the participants reported social rejection due to their gender identity, and most of them claimed that it came from members of their own family. Additionally, 63% reported being a victim of physical violence as well. And as if that wasn’t bad enough, a 2012 TransPulse study found that the suicide attempt rate for those who did not have supportive parents was at 57%, while there was only a 4% from those who did have a comprehensive and understanding family.

Movies like Elle Fanning’s About Ray and TV shows that include characters such as Zelda Williams’s interpretation of Drew in Dead of Summer are important because they sensitize a wide audience to the realities of being transgender and becoming who you really are. Gender identity is not an illness or something that can be cured. A gender identity is just that, an identity, and that’s what everyone needs to understand and learn to accept.

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