• Move announced as part of region’s desire to ‘de-pathologise’ transexuality
• Special unit set up in Barcelona to handle all gender identity healthcare needs
The regional health service in Spain’s northeastern region of Catalonia has dropped its controversial requirement for individuals seeking a medical gender change to first undergo psychiatric evaluation, removing what transgender and LGBT activists in Spain have long protested as a stigmatization that equates homosexuality and the desire for gender change with mental illness.
Regional health minister Antoni Comín announced Monday that individuals experiencing gender identity disorder over the sexual identity they were assigned at birth and who seek hormone treatment or surgery through the Catalan health service will no longer be treated as though they have a mental disorder prior to undergoing therapy.
As part of Catalonia’s push to “de-pathologise” healthcare related to sexual identity and gender change, Comín said, a new multi-disciplinary specialist Gender Identity Unit (GIU) has been established at Barcelona’s Manso primary healthcare center to meet the specific needs of individuals undergoing hormone therapy and sex-change surgery.
Currently, there are 437 people at different stages of sex-change treatment within the Catalan health system, with 93 new applications each year from individuals seeking initial hormonal treatment of two years prior to being placed on the waiting list for sex-change surgery.