The term “gender identity disorder” was used in the past to describe individuals who experienced significant distress or discomfort due to a discrepancy between their assigned sex at birth and their internal sense of gender identity. However, this term is no longer used, and the current understanding is that being transgender is not a mental disorder.

Gender identity is a deeply-held sense of one’s own gender, which may or may not align with the sex assigned at birth. When an individual’s gender identity differs from their assigned sex, it is known as being transgender.

The World Health Organization (WHO) and the American Psychiatric Association (APA) have recognized that being transgender is not a mental illness. In 2019, the World Health Organization reclassified “gender identity disorder” to “gender incongruence” in the International Classification of Diseases (ICD-11) to depathologize transgender identities.

Psychologists and mental health professionals now approach gender identity issues from a perspective of gender-affirming care, providing support, understanding, and validation for individuals exploring or identifying as a gender different from their assigned sex. Gender-affirming therapy may help individuals navigate the challenges they face, including social, emotional, and medical aspects of transitioning.

The focus of psychological care for transgender individuals is to assist them in embracing and affirming their authentic gender identity, improving mental well-being, and fostering a positive self-concept. This approach recognizes that gender diversity is a normal aspect of human variation and respects individuals’ self-identified gender without attempting to change their gender identity.