A Queensland trans woman has taken a prominent role in tackling trans discrimination on a global scale. The World Health Organisation (WHO) still includes ‘transsexualism’ in its list of mental disorders, something that Gold Coast campaigner Michelle Diamond (pictured) sees as discrimination that adds to the struggle that she faces on a daily basis.
“This isn’t only incredibly hurtful and degrading for people like me around the world, it also supports and perpetuates attitudes that do huge damage both mentally and physically,” Diamond said.
“Growing up was incredibly difficult; being told something was wrong with me, and that I was sick, was really damaging. The World Health Organisation is a UN agency, which makes its discrimination particularly hard to bear.”
The change.org campaign is a global coordinated effort that has transsexual rights advocates from Spain, Canada, France, Italy, the UK, Germany and Australia petitioning the WHO to remove the term from their mental disorders list, which is currently being reviewed for its 11th edition. Diamond was made the Australian face of the campaign, which was started by Jenna Talackova who became the first transsexual contestant to enter the Canadian Miss Universe competition but was ejected after her sexual identity was discovered. She was later reinstated after a public backlash and online protest.
Trans rights advocates and psychologists claim that the WHO’s classification is purely discriminatory and out of step with medicine and health practices in a modern society. Along with many academics and researchers, the advocates argue that transsexualism is an inborn trait and should not be treated as a disease.
“Being transsexual is something we are born with, and many of us go through a long struggle to be who we really are on the inside,” Diamond said.
“I hid myself away for a number of years, too scared to be myself. But as time went by, I knew I had to find a way to be who I truly am on the inside.”
Up until 1990, the WHO still classified homosexuality as a mental disorder and was removed after persistent lobbying and petitioning by rights organisations around the world. There are currently over 6,000 signatures on Diamond’s petition, which has added to the global tally of more than 66,000.