Sweden removes transvestism and other ‘sexual behaviours’ from list of diseases

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a white background.

The National Board of Health and Welfare in Sweden has decided to remove a range of ‘sexual behaviours’ from the official disease registry.

30 years ago the board removed homosexuality from list, which is primarily used to gather statistics on healthcare but is also viewed as an official list of diseases.

Some felt that the inclusion of transvestism, sadomasochism, fetishism, fetishistic transvestism, sexual preference disorders and gender identity disorder in young people led to social stigma.

“We don’t want to contribute to certain sexual behaviours being thought of as diseases,” Lars-Erik Holm, head of the national board, told Dagens Nyheter newspaper.

“These individuals’ sexual preferences have nothing to do with society.”

Maria Sundin from Sweden’s Trans Oresund network said:

“The demand for the exclusion of certain diagnostic criterias such as transvestitism, sado-masochism and fetishism from the Swedish verison of ICD-10 (KSH97) has been supported by the GLBT community for quite a while.”

The World Health Organisation’s coding of diseases is known as the International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems and it is on its 10th Revision (ICD-10).

“It’s also important that the Swedish National Board of Health and Welfare will work towards an elimination of these diagnostic criterias from the ICD-10 on an international level,” said Ms Sundin.

“As far as I can see this action will not influence how our national health insurance will fund various medical needs for the transgender community.

“Access to treatment is based on the diagnosis of transsexualism, which will remain in the Swedish version of ICD-10.

“The law governing the right to legal gender reasignement is still in force and stems from 1972.

“It’s at present due for revision but the new version will most likely be as restrictive as the 1972 version.”

Swedish law restricts access to legal gender change (incluing name change) and surgery to people over 18 years of age, regardless of parental consent.