Peru’s government considers transexualism a mental health problem: what you need to know

Transgender Credit: Juanje Garrido/Shutterstock

A few days ago, the government of Peru published a supreme decree in which “transsexualism” and “gender identity disorder” are considered “mental health problems,” among other points, causing controversy even within agencies of the executive branch. 

On May 10, the official newspaper El Peruano published supreme decree No. 009-2024-SA, which approves the update of the Essential Health Insurance Plan (PEAS, by its Spanish acronym), a document that details the list of diseases whose treatments are provided in public hospitals.

In this regulation, signed by Peru President Dina Boluarte, Minister of Economy and Finance José Berley Arista, and Minister of Health César Henry Vásquez, seven diagnoses considered “mental health” problems are included.

The diagnoses are “transsexualism; dual-role transvestism; childhood gender identity disorder; other gender identity disorders; gender identity disorder, unspecified; fetishistic transvestism;” and “ego dystonic sexual orientation.”

Until 2022, these diagnoses were part of the “Mental and Behavioral Disorders” chapter of the 10th version of the International Statistical Classification of Diseases (ICD-10), which was updated that year and no longer considers them as pathologies.

After the publication of the decree, various organizations, such as the feminist group Manuela Ramos, rejected the regulation and expressed their concern about the possibility of “conversion therapies.” Feminists indicated that the regulation “intends to make gender and sexual diversity seen as a disease. We demand the immediate repeal of this measure.”

After complaints, especially on social media, the Peruvian Ministry of Health (Minsa) published a statement on May 11 in which it “reaffirms its position that gender and sexual diversity are not diseases. In this framework we express our respect for gender identities as well as our rejection of the stigmatization of sexual diversity in the country.”

In its statement, Minsa also said that “a person’s sexual orientation and gender identity does not constitute in itself a physical or mental health disorder and, therefore, they should not be subjected to medical treatment or care or to so-called conversion therapies.”

The statement also noted that the update of the PEAS was made “in response to the need to ensure the benefit of comprehensive mental health interventions, as conditions for the full exercise of the right to health and well-being of the person, the family, and the community.” 

However, despite the statement by the Ministry of Health, the decree remains in force: It has not been modified or repealed.

It should be noted that on Dec. 15, 1973, the American Psychiatric Association, which establishes standards in the field of mental health, removed homosexuality from its Diagnostic and Statistical Manual. A group of homosexual activist psychiatrists championed this change.

Years later, in 2005, a former president of the American Psychological Association, Dr. Nicholas Cummings, together with psychologist and author Rogers H. Wright, published the book “Destructive Trends in Mental Health.

Cummings and Wright pointed out, among other things, that “psychology, psychiatry, and social work have been captured by an ultraliberal agenda, much of which we agree with as citizens. However, we are alarmed with the damaging effect it is having on our science, our practice, and our credibility.”

“Although I am in agreement with many of the APA’s stances, I am opposed to the process that has diminished its credibility. It is no longer perceived as an authority that presents scientific evidence and professional facts. The APA has chosen ideology over science, and thus has diminished its influence on the decision makers in our society,” Cummings lamented in the book.

This story was first published by ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish-language news partner. It has been translated and adapted by CNA.

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