IN a world first, being ‘transgender’ will be declassified as a mental illness in Denmark from January next year in a move Danish parliamentarians say is to put pressure on the World Health Organisation (WHO) to follow suit.

Social Democrat spokesman and Danish health committee deputy chairman Flemming Møller Mortensen told Ritzau news agency that trans people in Denmark feel stigmatised when diagnosed as having a mental illness.

 “We will be the first in the world to remove transgender as a diagnosis. The Health Committee has approved removing transgender from (the Danish Health and Medicines Authority) Sundhedsstyrelsen’s list of mental disorders if the World Health Organization (WHO) hasn’t done so by then,” Mortensen added.

WHO, which currently classifies being trans as a mental disorder, plans to discuss making changes to the classification later in the year.

Mortensen said earlier in the year that Denmark had “run out of patience” waiting for WHO to change the classification and would “go it alone”.

“It is completely inappropriate to call it a sickness,” Mortensen told AFP.

Amnesty International has praised the move, describing it as a huge step for trans people all around the world.

“This makes Denmark a pioneer country for transgender rights,” an Amnesty spokesman said.

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