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'I am not sick. I am transgender'

Max Zachs Max Zachs

World Health Organisation urged to take transsexualism off list of mental disorders.

The World Health Organisation has come under pressure from campaigners to stop classifying transsexualism as a mental illness.

The body publishes an international classification of diseases which informs government policy and health provision, but is currently under review.

Now, more than 35,000 people have signed a petition at Change.org calling on the body to change its definition. It was set up by Max Zachs, 26, from London, who was featured on Channel 4's show 'My Transsexual Summer.'

Mr Zachs was born female but has been transitioning since 2009 when he took testosterone hormones. In 2010 he travelled to Bangkok, Thailand, to undergo a double mastectomy and male chest contouring.

In a Youtube video to promote his campaign, Mr Zachs said: 'I am not sick. I am perfectly healthy. I am transgender.'

Gender identity and its role in healthcare has long been the subject of heated debate. Homosexuality was removed from the list of mental disorders in 1990, when the ICD was last revised and advocates want transsexualism to be removed when it is updated in 2015.

Transsexuals have a strong and constant desire to live and be accepted as a member of the opposite sex. Many have gender reassignment treatment to make their appearance more consistent with their preferred gender. This often involves hormone therapy and surgery.

Recent research suggests gender dysphoria could be caused by hormones not working properly within the womb.

Sarah Savage, from Jersey, who went through transition last year, and appeared in the same documentary as Mr Zachs, said she found the current classification insulting.

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Last modified onThursday, 24 October 2013 04:58
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