Denmark to become 1st country where 'transgender' is not mental illness

© Cathal McNaughton
Denmark announced it will remove “transgender” from the country's official list of mental illnesses, saying it has run out of patience waiting on the WHO to make the change. The move will make Denmark the first nation in the world to make the amendment.

As of January, 1, 2017, the word “transgender” will no longer be listed under the Ministry of Health's definition of mental illness, the ministry confirmed, as reported by the Local.

"The WHO is currently working on a new system for registering diagnoses. It has been working on it for a very, very long time. Now we’ve run out of patience, and want to send out a signal saying that if the system is not changed by October, then we in Denmark will go it alone,” Social Democrat health spokesman Flemming Møller Mortensen told Ritzau news agency.

Those thoughts were echoed by Health Minister Sophie Løhde, who confirmed to broadcaster DR that if the WHO changes are not completed by autumn, then Copenhagen would seek a “Danish solo act” and change the definition itself.

Mortensen stated that listing transgender people as having a mental illness or behavioral problems is “incredibly stigmatizing and in no way reflects how we see transgender people in Denmark. It should be a neutral diagnosis.”

However, he stressed that stigmatization is not the only reason to make the change.

“It’s incredibly discriminatory to put transgender people in a box with mental and behavioral illnesses. It also has other consequences. Trans people can be denied insurance because they have a diagnosis," he said.

Copenhagen's announcement was praised by LGBT Denmark's trans issue spokesperson, Linda Thor Pederson, who called the move a “big step forward.”

“Being transgender is a natural variation, like being left-handed,” Pedersen said. “We are not sick, and therefore don’t belong in the chapter on mental illnesses. Some people still think we are mentally ill, because our diagnosis is in the psychiatric chapter. This proposal can make a big difference towards changing that."