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WHO announces committee for guidance on adult trans health

BMJ 2024; 384 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.q14 (Published 03 January 2024) Cite this as: BMJ 2024;384:q14
  1. Elisabeth Mahase
  1. The BMJ

The World Health Organization has announced the members of the committee that will develop a new guideline on the health of trans and gender diverse adults.1

The guideline group has 21 members from across the world and includes doctors, transgender rights leaders, trans people, and a human rights lawyer.2 Most (14) of the members were announced in June 2023,3 with the additional seven members added in December.

The guidance will focus on the provision of gender affirming care, training for health staff on gender inclusive care, healthcare for trans and gender diverse people who have been subject to interpersonal violence, gender inclusive health policies, and legal recognition of self-determined gender identity.

The group is set to meet in February to “interpret the evidence, with explicit consideration of the overall balance of benefits and harms,” formulate recommendations, and highlight research gaps.

The announcement has been met with some criticism. In an online petition, which has around 3400 signatures, campaigners have said the panel is “highly biassed in favour of ‘gender affirming’ approaches, with an absence of critical perspectives.” They also said that the “brief window for public comment” in December—following the addition of seven new members—“suggests a lack of interest in gathering the public’s input.”

The petitioners have called for WHO to “cancel this group’s first planned meeting in February and go back to the drawing board.” The petition has been co-signed by organisations such as LGB Alliance and LGBT Courage Coalition.

In response, a WHO spokesperson told The BMJ, “As stated in the announcement, this is a notice phase for the guideline development group process, so WHO can solicit feedback from the public and relevant stakeholders in accordance with its guidelines development procedures. All views will be weighed on the composition of the guideline development group as part of the guideline development process which began in 2021.

“WHO guidelines are always based on balancing of available evidence, human rights principles, consideration of harms and benefits, and inputs of end users and beneficiaries. We encourage stakeholders to provide feedback through the channels specified in the announcement.”

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