Peru prompts backlash after declaring transgenderism a mental illness

Unsplash/Jacob Thorson
Unsplash/Jacob Thorson

The government of Peru classified transgenderism and nonbinary gender identities as a mental illness last week, prompting backlash from LGBT advocacy groups.

Peru President Dina Boluarte signed the decree last Friday, changing language in the country's Essentials Health Insurance Plan to reflect that trans-identifying people have a mental disorder.

A spokesperson for the Peruvian health ministry maintained that the change was made to "guarantee full coverage of medical attention for mental health" for those suffering from gender dysphoria, according to The Telegraph.

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The move prompted pushback from some LGBT groups, such as OutfestPeru, whose director, Jheinser Pacaya, took to X to express his disapproval.

"100 years after the decriminalization of homosexuality, the [health ministry] has nothing better to do than to include trans people in the category of mental illnesses," Pacaya wrote. "We demand and we will not rest until its repeal."

The group Red Peruana contends that the decree is hurtful to the country's trans-identifying community and exhibits an "outdated" view of gender identity, as noted by the LGBT news outlet PinkNews.

Percy Mayta-Tristán, a medical researcher at the Scientific University of the South in Lima, told the Telegraph that the government's move failed to take into account the complexity of gender identity issues.

"You can't ignore the context that this is happening in a super-conservative society, where the LGBT community has no rights and where labeling them as mentally ill opens the door to conversion therapy," the researcher was quoted as saying. 

The rights watchdog Human Rights Watch said in a statement that the decree "employs obsolete classifications related to gender identity and sexual orientation that the World Health Organization (WHO) replaced in the most recent International Classification of Diseases, published in 2019."

The Peruvian government issued a statement last week explaining that LGBT individuals would not be expected to undergo so-called "conversion therapy," which was banned in the country by a resolution in 2021.

During his show on Thursday, Daily Wire host Michael Knowles noted the "irony" of the outrage over the decree.

"It's prompted outrage, but there's an irony because Peru did not declare transgenderism or mental illness to 'own the libs' or anything like that," he said. "Peru declared it a mental illness so that people who suffer from this confusion can get medical treatment."

"So the irony is that this declaration was meant to mollify and pacify the LGBT element of the community, and they were angry about it because they're angry about everything. They're always screaming and crying and demanding more nonsense," he continued, adding that transgender interventions are typically very expensive.

Knowles further argued that gender dysphoria was universally acknowledged as a mental illness until politics seeped into the psychiatric field in recent years.

"This isn't even making Peru an outlier here to say that transgenderism is a mental illness — we all know it is — but even in America, we currently define transgenderism as a mental illness," Knowles also said, referring to "gender dysphoria" being listed as a mental illness in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders until 2013.

"It might be the only mental illness that we universally acknowledged to be a mental illness, implicitly or explicitly, and then encouraged it," he said. "I guess that makes us a crazy country. If you're the kind of country that encourages craziness and subsidizes crazy and mandates craziness as a matter of law, I guess that makes you a crazy country, doesn't it?"

Jon Brown is a reporter for The Christian Post. Send news tips to

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