HRC 35 | Side event on Transgender People, Mental Health and Human Rights

35th session of the UN Human Rights Council (HRC 35)

  • Thursday, 8 June 2017, 11.30 – 13.00
  • Palais des Nations, Room XXI , Geneva

All around the world, transgender people are routinely classified as mentally disordered because of their gender identity and/or gender expression. Mental health diagnoses are required by many States to regulate access to basic human rights, such as gender recognition, gender affirming healthcare, and its coverage.
This fosters stigma, discrimination and violence and denies transgender people’s autonomy and self-determination. Furthermore, pathologization promotes and justifies gross human rights violations, including conversion therapies, sterilization, torture and ill treatment in healthcare settings. It affects transgender people of all ages, including children, adolescents and elders.


Paradoxically, the pathologization of certain bodies, identities and expressions make mental health services hostile or plainly inaccessible to many transgender people and, especially to the most vulnerable ones – transgender people of colour, transgender people living with HIV, transgender sex workers, transgender people living in extreme poverty, homelessness, or in prisons, and transgender migrants and refugees.

The extremely negative consequences of pathologizing transgender people have been addressed by UNDP, WHO, OHCHR and different Special Procedures, including the Special Rapporteur on Torture, the Special Rapporteur on Health and the Independent Expert on SOGI Issues.


The panel session will provide an opportunity to address human rights violations against transgender people and to discuss current advances in the process to dismantle pathologization both at the national and at the international levels. It will also provide space to discuss practical next steps that need to be taken to improve the situation.


Julia Ehrt, Executive Director, Transgender Europe


Dainius PūrasUN Special Rapporteur on the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest
attainable standard of physical and mental health
Vitit MuntarbhornUN Independent Expert on protection against violence and discrimination based
on sexual orientation and gender identity
Mauro Cabral Grinspan, Executive Director, Global Action for Trans Equality
Vivianne VergueroAkahatá