Making It True

Today, Global Action for Trans Equality (GATE) joins this annual Day of Action for Trans Depathologization by making a global call to end the systematic violation of our human rights.

Trans people – and all people whose bodies, identities, sexualities and ways of expressing them contradict social, religious, and legal expectations – have been historically pathologized. We have faced a long and cruel history of stigma and discrimination, colonialism and exploitation, exclusion and violence, extractivism and oppression. Our lives and identities have for too-long been reduced to pathologizing diagnoses, and it is time for this history to end.

On this Day of Action we urge the World Health Organization (WHO) to openly involve trans people in all matters affecting us, including the revision and reform of the International Classification of Diseases; to work with us dismantling medical and legal barriers that prevent trans people to fully exercise their autonomy and self-determination; and to join us in investigating human rights violations grounded on trans pathologization and securing adequate reparation and redress for victims.

The ICD revision and reform process opens an unprecedented opportunity to change history by removing all trans-related references from the ICD chapter on Mental Health. While celebrating the proposed non-pathologizing reference in the new ICD draft version, we are extremely concerned about the persistence of an old diagnosis under a new name (Gender Incongruence of Childhood, or GIC) that would pathologize gender-diverse children in the proposed version of ICD-11. As repeatedly asserted not only by trans activists and allies, but also by key psychological and medical experts from around the globe, there are no valid reasons to pathologize children just because they are exploring, expressing, or affirming themselves.

The new ICD (ICD-11) will be approved in 2018, and it will have a significant and disparate impact on trans people in a world brutally marked by socio-economic and political inequalities. While some trans people live in countries where access to gender recognition is compatible with human rights standards, the majority of us still reside in States where our right to life is at risk every day; where we can be persecuted, arbitrarily detained, and tortured; where different laws allow countries to demand we be sterilized, examined, institutionalized, treated, divorced and, of course, diagnosed. While many of us live in countries where gender affirming procedures are not available, others live in countries where access to those procedures depend on wealth, crowd-funding, or private insurance decisions. While the ICD process is intended to depathologize trans people, changing the material conditions of existence for trans people will be the only true way of making depathologization a reality.

This Day of Action for Trans Depathologization is sadly marked by news of violence against trans people – coming every day from everywhere – most frequently against trans women and other people in the transfeminine spectrum. As usual, it is intersectional violence, and class, race, HIV status and sex work play a crucial role. Harassment, bullying, and institutional mistreatment are seriously affecting the health and wellbeing of our communities. We can achieve trans depathologization, but we need the world to stop making us sick of fear, sadness, injuries, and nightmares.

GATE pledges to do all we can to help create a world where being trans is no longer defined by a medical diagnosis or seen as a pathology- and where trans people can enjoy full human rights, safety, and a right to identity every day, from their early childhood to their very oldest age.

In solidarity,

Mauro Cabral & Masen Davis, Co-Directors

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This statement is supported by: 

APTN – Asia Pacific Trans Network / www.weareaptn.org

ILGA – International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association / www.ilga.org

Iranti-org / www.iranti-org.co.za

TGEU – Transgender Europe / www.tgeu.org

STP – International Campaign Stop Trans Pathologization / http://stp2012.info/