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Sweden to stop calling transgender people 'mentally ill'

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Sweden to stop calling transgender people 'mentally ill'
An archive picture of Swedes protesting against classifying transgender people as mentally ill. Photo: Leif R Jansson/TT
11:17 CET+01:00
Transgender people will no longer be classified as “mentally ill” in Sweden, the country's main national health authority has announced, in a decision widely criticised as overdue.
Sweden's National Board of Health and Welfare, or Socialstyrelsen, announced late on Friday that it would no longer automatically apply the diagnosis “gender dysphoria” to transgender patients.
 
“…more than anything, this change has an important symbolic value," Kristina Bränd Persson, the organisation's head, said in a press release. “This is a completely reasonable change. Many divisions and categories are obsolete. For us, the decision is uncontroversial. We tend to follow the changes the WHO makes.” 
 
The decision was widely ridiculed on Twitter.  
 
"At fucking bloody last!" tweeted Leo Ringqvist. "We are not ill, most of all mentally."  
 
"Wake me! Is it 2017 or 1817," complained Ewa-Maria Åström. 
 
 
The move follows a decision made by the World Health Organisation in October to remove the transsexualism classification from the chapter on mental illness in its diagnostic guide.  
 
"This is welcome but no surprise," said Frida Sandegård, chairperson of RFSL, which lobbies for the rights of gay, bisexual and transgender people.  
 
Transgender people have complained of receiving unwelcome questions and stigmatising treatment when dealing with health professionals in Sweden. 
 
The agency said the change would not take place immediately, as it would first have to incorporate the decision into its own national version of ICD-10, the latest disease classification manual issued by the WHO. 
 
The work is expected to be completed this year. 
 
 
 
 
 

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