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Guidelines to Human Rights-based Trans-specific Healthcare

The World Health Organisation has removed trans identities from the mental health disorders chapter of the International Classification of Diseases and has added it to a new chapter called “Conditions related to sexual health”. This crucial step has officially de-psychopathologised trans identities. However, these efforts are not enough to change the reality of trans-specific services if they do not go together with a change in perspective and models of care. Access to healthcare and the possibility to do so being free of discrimination and in quality conditions is still a struggle for the trans community. The situation varies from country to country, but even those with the most advanced legislation haven’t yet reached human principles standards. 

Violations of human rights in trans-specific healthcare are still a daily occurrence and pathologisation is the norm

Currently, medical providers hold the power to assess or diagnose trans people, allow or deny access to care, and establish in what terms they do so. This traditional model is rigid and the steps that people have to go through are based on a binary understanding of gender. It does not respect the diversity of trans experiences, and it violates the principles of being free from discrimination, self-determination and informed consent, among others. Providers are much more likely to deny access to non-binary, non-heterosexual, intersex and gender non-conforming people, anyone with a mental health condition, D/deaf and disabled people, black and people of colour, sex workers, migrants and children. This and other issues are addressed in the guide.

Guidelines to Human Rights-based Trans-specific Healthcare is the first guide which addresses how the specific services trans people access in the healthcare system relate to human rights principles. It aims to support the creation of healthcare legislation and protocols that are compliant with human rights.

  • The guidelines depict what trans-specific healthcare should look like. It provides concrete examples of what trans people’s rights look like and what should or shouldn’t happen in trans-specific healthcare
  • Moreover, it identifies the connection of each principle with specific healthcare practices.
  • It provides a set of recommendations for the creation of legislation and protocols.

This guide attempts to contribute to the changing scenario. Human rights principles have set the basis and different institutions have acknowledged and supported the need for a new approach in trans-specific healthcare that is respectful of trans people’s experiences and rights.

It is urgent that all actors involved start questioning and reformulating trans-specific healthcare policies and practices.