WHO classification changes in the ICD

21 May 2019

Article: 53/2007

The World Health Organization (WHO) has released a new edition of the International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems (ICD), known as ICD-11. The changes reflect a modern understanding of sexual health and gender identity, notably by replacing ‘transsexualism’ with a new concept of ‘gender incongruence’, defined as a condition relating to sexual health rather than a mental and behavioural disorder.

The ICD is a standard guide used globally as the basis for health statistics, with funding implications for health services and insurance. How a condition or disease is classified in the ICD can make a significant difference to the way health systems and communities comprehend and respond to it. The previous classification of trans-related and gender-diverse identity issues created stigma and potential barriers to care, such as individuals having to be diagnosed as mentally ill, in order to access gender-affirming health care supported by health insurance coverage.

ICD-11 now acknowledges links that frequently occur between gender identity, sexual behaviour, exposure to violence and sexually transmitted infections.

Source: WHO, 17 May 2019