W.H.O. Weighs Dropping Transgender Identity From List of Mental Disorders
A proposal to remove the designation from international guidelines is rapidly gaining support, and would lessen stigmatization.
By Pam Belluck

Removing the mental health label from transgender identity would be a powerful signifier of acceptance, advocates and mental health professionals say.

“It’s sending a very strong message that the rest of the world is no longer considering it a mental disorder,” said Dr. Michael First, a professor of clinical psychiatry at Columbia University and the chief technical consultant to the new edition of the codebook, which is known by its initials and the edition number I.C.D.-11. “One of the benefits of moving it out of the mental disorder section is trying to reduce stigma.”

Every day, I hate my spots. I hate my scabs. I hate that I pick, and I hate why I pick, and I hate that I don’t always know why I pick. I hate my skin.

I hate picking and bleeding. I hate the stinging, the pain. I hate the moments of zero control, the urge, and what it does me. However, it is not a reflection of who I am, it is not a reflection of who I want to be, or a reflection of how I ultimately see myself.

I’m reminded every day of my picking.

I’m reminded in photos. I’m reminded when I use the bathroom, when I wash my face, when I catch blood on my fingertips, when I see that small specks of blood have stained my clothing again. I’m reminded when I can’t seem to back the fuck away from the bathroom mirror. I’m reminded when I try on a shirt or dress that exposes my shoulders, upper arms, chest and upper back. I’m reminded by looking at the Milky Way of scabs on my body. I’m reminded when I can’t stop picking at my arms and shoulders while stopped at a red light. I’m reminded when I get honked at because the traffic light has been green for god knows how long at this point, and my picking brain is SURE that if I squeeze a certain spot in a different way, maybe put pressure on a different angle, I’ll be able to extract something out of my spots.

It is in these moments that I need to find compassion. I need to find compassion for my skin, my bumps, my scars, my imperfections, and my actions. I need to find compassion for those moments when I stop, those moments when I scan, find a bump, and don’t pick, and find compassion in those moments where I have to be called out of my picking by the call of “are you okay in there.” I need to have compassion to combat the shame, and tell myself “it’s okay, you may have started, but you stopped.”

There is a always a part of my soul, a part of me, that gets pulled away from reality by the rip current that pulls my fingertips to my skin. I will always come back to the shore and to reality. I emerge from picking feeling ashamed, ugly, embarrassed, and raw. And that’s where the compassion is most necessary.

It’s an addiction. It’s a disorder, and it’s ultimately driven by my mind.

I’ll stop, though. I always do at some point. I can’t physically pick all day. I need to be proud that I stopped.

I also need to be proud of my skin. I’m not there yet, not even close. I don’t feel like I’ll be proud until it’s clear and scab-free. However, that may never happen.

For now, I’ll settle for acceptance. I will not allow some bumps, scabs, spots and pimples to control me, my emotions and my self-esteem.