Gender Dysphoria, previously known as Gender Identity Disorder, is the distress one feels when their gender and their sex doesn’t match. As we’ve said on our Instagram page before, gender, sex and sexuality are vastly different.
Gender: How we relate to the constructs of masculinity and femininity as outlined by society.
Sex: Normally assigned at birth through the genitals we have.
Sexuality: Who we are attracted to.
For some with gender dysphoria they may identify completely as a different sex whilst others are more fluid.
The signs of gender dysphoria can be apparent at a young age. Initially it may begin by not wanting to wear ‘gender conforming’ clothing but also toys and games. As we get older these signs can disappear but for some it can continue into adulthood. The pressure of society can force people to live as their biological sex which can bring it’s own mental health problems. Meanwhile others get a strong desire to make physical changes to align their body with their identity.
A diagnosis for gender dysphoria is very in-depth and usually requires 2 clinicians to agree on the diagnosis. These discussions, often months apart, don’t just involve you but also family and friends. This is to understand how these thoughts have developed, how you are coping, the support in place and whether you are wanting to make any physical changes.
The treatment for gender dysphoria is very wide ranging. For some it may be living as the gender they identify as, others may have hormonal treatments and surgery to address the physical aspects. It is worth noting that there are different levels of physical changes, as everyone is different. Some opt to stop at the hormone treatment, others only have top surgery, some have bottom surgery and others may go on to have additional surgeries to make their face more feminine and reduce the size of the Adam’s apple (if transitioning to become female, for example).
The causes of gender dysphoria can be related to hormones as a foetus. For example, if the mother is taking medication which increases the levels of hormones in her system this can be passed on to the foetus. Similarly, the foetus may be insensitive to hormones meaning AIS (Androgen Insensitivity Syndrome) will occur. The role of hormones affect the brain which can then cause gender dysphoria. Additionally intersex children may develop gender dysphoria, which is why surgery is recommended to be postponed until the child can voice their own opinions.