What is Gender Dysphoria?
Gender dysphoria is a concept that expresses a feeling of discomfort that a person may experience due of a mismatch between their biological sex and their gender identity.
This feeling of discontent may be so strong that it may lead to depression and anxiety and have a negative effect on everyday life.
A number of psychologists have suggested that gender is a spectrum rather than a binary characteristic, i.e. there is a range of gender identities between and outside of the categories of male and female. Most individuals believe that their gender identity (or primary gender) is an accurate representation of their body, which is why they identify as cisgender (the prefix ‘cis’ means ‘the same’ in Latin).
It is essential to remember that gender identity and gender expression are not the same. Gender identification, therefore, is one’s internal psychological feeling of being male or female, while gender expression is the way a person represents themselves to the society as male or female.
Even if one’s gender identification is clear, their gender expression may not be. Gender expressions and identities are similarly complex and fluid for everyone, and should not be labeled as a disease.
Moreover, sexual orientation is separate from gender identity. Sexual orientation refers to one’s sexual preference towards individuals of a certain kind. Those who are transgender and people who are cisgender (those whose sexual identification equals their biological sex at birth) both possess the same variety of sexual orientations.
Transgender is the word used to describe a person whose gender identification is different from their biological sex. Some individuals are born with bodies that don’t match their gender expression. They may be born with female genitalia and reared as a woman, yet see themselves as a man. Others perceive themselves as a mix of genders, while others identify in a more neutral manner, and yet others may have a more flexible notion of gender (e.g., non-binary, gender-fluid). People who believe that their gender is complex may express it in ways such as transfeminine or transmasculine.
Symptoms of Gender Dysphoria in Adults
The connection between gender dysphoria in prepubescent children and adult homosexuality is stronger than it is to adult transgender identification, particularly in regards to boys.
Recent studies indicate that most gender dysphoric children would reject their transgender identification by the time they reach adolescence, with the majority of them later growing up to identify as gay, lesbian, or bisexual. If dysphoria throughout adolescence continues, it is very likely to remain for the rest of their lives.
In adults, symptoms of gender dysphoria include the following:
- Firm belief that their gender doesn’t match their physical characteristics
- Strong desire to become another gender
- Intense need to be considered as a different gender by the society
- Strong urge to get rid of their sex organs and other innate physical characteristics
- Conviction that their emotions and behaviors are just what one would expect from someone of their gender identity
People with gender dysphoria may feel lonely or isolated from others, and face pressure from friends, classmates or workmates, or family to behave in a certain way. Oftentimes, people who have gender dysphoria face bullying and harassment in their workplace, which results in depression and social isolation.
With the aid of physicians and counselors, patients have a wider range of choices in their therapy. It’s possible that some of these people may be happy with their new social position, and the side effects of hormonal therapy, but they may or may not be interested in surgery.
After a person completes transition to the gender they feel they belong to, they may experience significant mental health benefits from therapy. However, friends, relatives, or coworkers may not completely comprehend or accept the alterations.
Therefore, a transgender individual will still need to continue visiting their doctor for hormonal treatment and psychological support during the transition.