Denmark to no longer define transgender as mental illness

The Local Denmark
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Denmark to no longer define transgender as mental illness
File photo: Iris/Scanpix DK

Denmark is set to officially delete the definition of transgender as a mental illness. The move will make Denmark the world’s first health authority to take the step.


From January 1st, 2017, transgender will no longer appear on Denmark’s definition of mental illnesses, the Ministry of Health has confirmed.

The move would make Denmark a groundbreaker if the World Health Organisation (WHO) does not make a similar move before the autumn, news agency Ritzau reported.

“At the moment, transgender is listed as a mental illness or behavioural problem. That is incredibly stigmatising and in no way reflects how we see transgender people in Denmark. It should be a neutral diagnosis,” Social Democrat health spokesman Flemming Møller Mortensen told Ritzau.

"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,” said Mortensen.

Health Minister Sophie Løhde confirmed to broadcaster DR that if the WHO changes are not completed by the autumn then the government would seek a “Danish solo act” and changed the definition itself.

Mortensen added that stigmatisation was not the only reason to change the definition.

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

LGBT Denmark’s trans issues spokesperson Linda Thor Pedersen said the move was a “big step forward” for transgender rights.

“Being transgender is a natural variation, like being left-handed,” Pedersen told Ritzau.

“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,” Pedersen said.


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