There are many factors that can affect the onset of gender dysphoria. Age is just one factor.
Some people may experience gender dysphoria earlier in life. For example, it’s possible to be diagnosed with gender dysphoria as an adult.
However, it’s also possible to experience gender dysphoria in childhood or adolescence.
The most important thing to note is that gender dysphoria isn’t a “cure” for those who were originally assigned male at birth and then identify as women at some point in adulthood.
What is gender dysphoria?
Gender dysphoria is a psychological condition in which a person feels that their gender identity doesn’t match their physical sex characteristics.
According to the gender identity treatment guide, the gender dysphoria diagnosis requires:
- A persistent and strong negative reaction to one’s sex or gender
- Negative or intense feelings about one’s gender or sex, or both
- A persistent and intense desire to change one’s gender or sex
Someone could be diagnosed with gender dysphoria if they:
- Think they’re a man or a woman
- Don’t find their physical sex characteristics to be their “true” gender
- Want to be treated as a member of the other gender
Examples of some common experiences of gender dysphoria include:
- Feeling like they’re not a man or a woman
- Feeling like they’ve been assigned male at birth and have female brain sex characteristics
- Thinking they’re an androgynous person with a female brain and body
- Feeling like they’re a woman, but have male brain and body
- Feeling like they’re a man or a woman, but don’t have a penis or a vagina
- Thinking they’re a woman, but don’t have a vagina
- Feeling like a woman, but don’t have a penis
- Discomfort with their genitals
- Wishing to have a penis or vagina
What causes gender dysphoria?
Gender dysphoria is a complex issue with many contributing factors.
Gender dysphoria can have a number of causes, including:
- Biological factors: Some people experience gender dysphoria because their body doesn’t match their gender identity.
- Genital surgery: Some people have genital surgery that’s not gender conforming.
- Medical interventions: Some people may undergo medical interventions to treat gender dysphoria.
- Psychological factors: Some people experience gender dysphoria because they have a low self-esteem or other psychological conditions.
- Social factors: Some people may experience gender dysphoria because they’re experiencing high rates of discrimination.
Where does gender dysphoria show up?
Gender dysphoria can happen at any point in a person’s life.
Some people may experience gender dysphoria as an adult. However, it’s also possible for people to experience gender dysphoria in childhood or adolescence.
A person may also experience gender dysphoria in the following situations:
- When they are assigned male at birth and then identify as a woman
- When a parent has a different gender identity than the child
- When a parent and a child have a different gender identity
- When a person is assigned female at birth and later identifies as a man, but other individuals in the same household have a different gender identity than the person
What are the symptoms of gender dysphoria?
Gender dysphoria can be difficult to recognize and diagnose. Some people may not recognize the symptoms of gender dysphoria until they’ve experienced it for a long time.
Symptoms of gender dysphoria may include:
- Discomfort with one’s physical sex or gender
- Feeling like they’ve been assigned male at birth and have female brain and body
- Discomfort with their appearance
- Wishing to be treated as a member of the other gender
People should talk with their doctor if they experience any of these symptoms.
How is gender dysphoria diagnosed?
Diagnosing gender dysphoria can be difficult because it’s a complex condition that can have many contributing factors.
A doctor may suggest that a person see a psychologist or psychiatrist for a diagnosis.
These professionals will look at a person’s medical and mental health history to help them diagnose gender dysphoria.
They may also perform a physical examination.
According to the American Psychiatric Association, a physical examination can include the following:
- Observing a person’s genitals
- Observing a person’s genitals and brain
- Observing the genital area
- Observing the breasts and nipples
- Observing the breasts, nipples, and genitals
- Checking for pubic hair
- Checking for scars
- Checking for any signs of infection
The doctor may also ask the person to describe situations or feelings that might be related to their gender identity.
If a doctor suspects gender dysphoria, they may order a number of diagnostic tests. These may include:
- A medical history and physical exam
- An interview with the person
- An MRI scan or CT scan
- An ophthalmologic exam
- A hormone test
- A psychological evaluation
How is gender dysphoria treated?
The type of treatment someone receives depends on a number of factors, including:
- The severity of the symptoms
- How well the person can handle the condition
- Whether the condition is caused by medical interventions, such as genital surgery
- The person’s age
- The person’s mental health history
Some people may be able to live with gender dysphoria. Others may need to undergo medical interventions.
Some people may also need to receive counseling.
People may need to make some lifestyle changes, such as:
- Changing their name and pronouns
- Changing their appearance
- Cutting their hair
- Changing their name and appearance on social media
- Getting surgery to remove their breasts or genitals
- Getting a mastectomy
Things to keep in mind
It’s important to talk with a doctor if a person feels their gender dysphoria is affecting their daily life.
According to the National LGBT Cancer Institute, a doctor will be able to help people who have a physical or mental health condition related to their gender identity.
Treatment can also improve a person’s quality of life.
People often develop gender dysphoria as they transition from one gender to another. In this case, gender transition can be a crucial part of treatment.
Some people who transition may also have mental health conditions, such as depression or anxiety.
Psychological counseling may also help improve a person’s mental health.
A doctor may refer a person to a therapist if they feel their gender dysphoria is affecting their mental health.
Images by Freepik
Generated by AI