What is Gender Dysphoria? Symptoms, Causes, and Treatment

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Gender dysphoria is the discomfort that can arise in people whose gender identity change from the sex assigned at birth or physical characteristics associated with sex.

Transgender and gender-diverse people may experience gender dysphoria at some point. However, some transgender and gender-diverse people are comfortable with their bodies, with or without medical intervention.

A diagnosis of gender dysphoria is involved in the Investigative and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), a guide issued by the American Psychiatric Team. The diagnosis was formed to help people with gender dysphoria obtain needed medical care and effective treatment. The term focuses on discomfort as a problem rather than an identity.

Symptoms of Gender Dysphoria

Symptoms of Gender Dysphoria

Children and adults can suffer from gender dysphoria. Symptoms vary depending on the person’s age, but most persons want to live in a way that matches their gender character. You may have had these feelings as an adult from a young age.

In Children:

  • He insisted that they were of the opposite sex.
  • They desperately want to be the opposite sex.
  • They want to wear clothing usually worn by another gender and resist wearing dress associated with their biological sex.
  • They prefer to play traditional opposite-sex roles in play or fantasy.
  • They prefer games and activities that are traditionally considered opposite gender.
  • I prefer playing with children of the opposite sex.
  • He has a strong aversion to his genitals.
  • He wants to have the physical characteristics of the opposite sex

In Adults:

  • An intense desire to be the opposite gender (or a different gender than the gender they were assigned at birth)
  • He wants to have the physical and sexual characteristics of the opposite sex
  • They want to get rid of their genitals
  • He wants to be treated like the opposite gender
  • wants to be addressed as the opposite sex (pronouns)
  • Feeling and responding strongly in ways associated with the opposite sex.

The emotional distress of gender dysphoria can affect school, work, social life, religious practice, or other areas of life. People with gender dysphoria can become anxious, depressed, and sometimes suicidal.

Causes of Gender Dysphoria

The correct causes of gender dysphoria are not fully understood, but several factors may play a role. Genetic factors, hormonal stimuli during prenatal growth, and environmental factors may be complex.

For example, prenatal exposure to some chemicals has associated with disruptions in the average growth of prenatal sex determination. Research also indicates a genetic link, as there is a higher co-prevalence among identical twins than among identical twins.

The onset of gender dysphoria is often during early childhood. While the exact mechanisms are unclear, we do know that when babies are born, they are assign a gender based on their anatomy. The sex of a child at birth often determines how they grow and how others interact with them. As they get older, they may feel a mismatch between their gender identity and the gender they are assign. In rare cases, this mismatch can lead to feelings of gender dysphoria.

Treatment For Gender Dysphoria

The main aim of treatment is to help them overcome any distress they may be experiencing. They can select the level of treatment that enables you to feel most relaxed. It may contain helping you transition to the gender of your choice.

Treatment for gender dysphoria is individual and may contain the following:

  • Counseling to help you understand your feelings and provide support and coping skills
  • Couples or family counseling to help reduce conflict, build understanding, and provide a supportive environment
  • Hormone therapy for gender confirmation (formerly known as hormone replacement therapy)
  • Gender confirmation surgery (formerly known as sex reassignment surgery)

Not all transgender persons need all forms of treatment. They may choose one or more of the above treatments.

Before deciding on surgery, you will likely receive gender-affirming hormone therapy and have lived in your chosen gender for at least one year. There are two main types of surgery: one affecting fertility and one that does not affect fertility. Not everyone decides to have surgery or can only choose one class.


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