Why and how to support depsychiatrisation of adult transidentity in ICD-11: A French study

Eur Psychiatry. 2019 Jun;59:8-14. doi: 10.1016/j.eurpsy.2019.03.005. Epub 2019 Apr 10.


Background: For the 11th version of the International Classification of Diseases, the WHO recommended to rename transgender transidentity as "gender incongruence", to remove it from the chapter of mental and behavioral disorders, and to put it in a new category titled "Conditions related to sexual health". This should contribute to reduce stigmatisation while maintaining access to medical care. One argument in favor of depsychiatrisation is to demonstrate that essential features of gender identity disorders, namely psychological distress and functional impairment, are not necessarily reported by every transgender person, and may result from social rejection and violence rather than dysphoria itself. Initially confirmed in Mexico, these hypotheses were tested in a specific French medical context, where access to care does not require any prior mental health evaluation or diagnosis.

Method: In 2017, 72 transgender persons completed retrospective interviews which focused on the period when they became aware that they might be transgender and perhaps would need to do something about it.

Results: Results showed that psychological distress and functional impairment were not reported by every participant, that they may result from rejection and violence, and especially from rejection and violence coming from coworkers and schoolmates. Additional data showed that the use of health services for body transformation did not depend on distress and dysfunction. Finally, participants preferred ICD 11 to employ "transgender" or "transidentity" rather than "gender incongruence".

Conclusion: Results support depsychiatrisation. They are discussed in terms of medical, ethical, legal, and social, added values and implications of depsychiatrisation.

Keywords: Clinical protocols; Depsychiatrisation; Health policy; Human rights; International Classification of Diseases; Transgender identity.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Awareness
  • Female
  • France
  • Gender Dysphoria / diagnosis
  • Gender Identity*
  • Humans
  • International Classification of Diseases
  • Male
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Transgender Persons / psychology*
  • Transsexualism / diagnosis*
  • Transsexualism / psychology