In a key vote on gender equality in mental health, the European Parliament has urged for stronger action on trans and intersex people’s mental health.
The Parliament deplores that transgender people are still considered mentally ill, and highlights that this diagnoses “is a source of significant distress for transgender persons”. It adds that “every child should be able to safely explore their gender identity and expression”, without being subjected to harmful diagnostic practices (paragraphs M, O and R).
Transgender people are still required to undergo sterilisation to have their gender recognised in 13 EU Member States, a practice the parliament condemns in this report (paragraph 47).
The Parliament recognises that the medicalisation and pathologisation (i.e. being considered ‘ill’), combined with prejudice, stigmatisation and discrimination, may result in specific mental health challenges for trans and intersex people (paragraph M).
Accordingly, the Parliament calls on the Commission and Member States to ensure that their mental health strategies address the “challenges . . . faced by LGBTI people” and take this into account when developing health policies, programmes and protocols (paragraph 5), and to allocate sufficient resources to ensure access to mental health services (paragraph 3).
Beatriz Becerra MEP, author of the report and Member of the LGBTI Intergroup, reacted: “One of the greatest myths surrounding mental health of trans and intersex people, is that they are ‘ill’. In this report the parliament takes a clear position, arguing that the way society deals with trans and intersex people is the problem, rather than a person’s variant sex characteristics or gender identity.”
“This is why we are calling on Member States to stop the forced sterilisation and medicalisation of trans and intersex persons.”
Vice-President of the LGBTI Intergroup Sirpa Pietikainen MEP, added: “At the same time, we recognise that the medicalisation, pathologisation and discrimination trans and intersex people face, do have significant emotional and psychological effects.”
“We call on Member States and the Commission to ensure that the particular mental health challenges faced by lesbian, bisexual, trans- and intersex persons face are given due consideration in the development of comprehensive mental health strategies.”