Le Provence:

Transsexualism will no longer be classified as a mental illness in France

Published on Saturday 16 May 2009

Translated by Curtis E. Hinkle, Founder of the Organisation Intersex International

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Transsexualism will no longer be classified in France as a mental illness, a government decision hailed Saturday as "historic" by the associations concerned, on the eve of the International Day Against Homophobia and transphobia.

The Minister of Health, Roselyne Bachelot, has appealed "in recent days" to the High Authority of Health in order to make a decree that transsexualism be removed from the category of psychiatric disorders, a spokesman for the department stated.

Until now, transsexuals benefited from a fee waiver for their medical care by being classified under ALD23 (affection de longue durée 23 – long term condition 23) for “recurring or persistent disorders”.

For the Department of Health, it is a "strong signal sent to the whole community", since transsexuals felt that being included under the ALD23 was stigmatizing.

This classification, arising from that of the World Health Organization (WHO), was also linked to the fact that transsexualism appeared on the list of pathologies identified in the DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) to which the medical profession refers, as was the case for homosexuality a few years ago.

In a forum published in Le Monde (newspaper) dated Sunday-Monday, numerous personalities including first secretary of the Socialist Party Martine Aubry, the communist Marie-George Buffet, Green (party member) Daniel Cohn-Bendit and even Nobel Prize winners such as Françoise Barré-Sinoussi (medicine) and Elfriede Jelinek (literature), asked the WHO “to no longer consider transsexuals as being affected by a mental disorder".

It is because the WHO decided on the 17th of May 1990 to remove homosexuality from the list of mental illnesses, that this date has been retained for the International Day Against Homophobia and transphobia, celebrated Sunday, starting Saturday in many places.

It is therefore symbolic that France chose this time and date to be "the first country in the world" to "remove transgender identity from the list of mental diseases", commented the IDAHO Committee. This "historic decision" is also "an explosion of hope for all trans persons around the world", according to Joël Bedos, secretary-general of the IDAHO Committee.

The HES (Association for Homosexuality and Socialism) also “hailed” this announcement which is in response to “demands that the LGBT community have been making for a long time in France.” For HES, it is time, at present, to go beyond the symbolic and take concrete actions to fight against the violence and discrimination facing trans persons.

Because beyond "this measure for declassification, there is still much to be done before transsexuals (...) are recognized as full-fledged citizens", insisted the coordinator of the group Inter-LGBT.
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