Here at My Transgender Date, we don’t only touch the bases related to the world of transgender dating. If you’ve stumbled upon here because you’re planning to have a relationship with a trans-oriented partner, you first must know the root of why they are the way they are.
If you’re an individual who’s seeking answers, you’re going to learn a lot about your gender dysphoria. Keep reading, most especially if you find that it’s starting to affect different aspects of your life.
What is Gender Dysphoria ?
Gender Dysphoria (also known as gender identity disorder before, in the 4th version of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, or DSM) is identified as the severe, strong desire of identifying with another biological s*x and disapproval with one’s assigned gender that’s based on their genitalia. For these feelings to be qualified with a diagnosis of gender dysphoria, they must result in apparent impairment or distress.
Individuals who experience gender dysphoria mostly want to live according to their gender identity. They often dress up and perform mannerisms that are mostly associated with the gender that they identify with in order to pacify the disorder.
Gender dysphoric feelings may show in a variety of different ways. An individual born with male genitalia, for example, may identify as a woman in private, while another may choose hormone replacement therapy (HRT) or gender reassignment surgery in order to get rid of the dysphoria.
Is Gender Dysphoria a Mental Disorder?
It is a mental disorder but NOT a mental illness.
It’s also not synonymous with gender nonconformity which deals with not abiding by the norms that are dictated by society when it comes to how one gender should act.
Because people often associate the word “disorder” with something negative, gender identity disorder (GID) was renamed gender dysphoria in order to describe a person with non-congruent s*x and gender.
Gender Dysphoria Levels
Gender Dysphoria’s definition is not black and white. It also varies in levels and these levels affect a person’s gender expression.
Some trans people are completely fine in keeping their genitals and are okay with living as the gender they identify with; without having to undergo a full transition. While some, go all the way and find peace of mind in knowing that everything about them matches with the gender that they identify with.
However, please don’t confuse the former people with being amenable to being addressed by the gender-based on their genitals. They still fully recognize themselves as the gender that they identify with, albeit still keeping what they have.
Do I have Gender Dysphoria?
To fully know if you’re indeed a transgender person and not just someone who wants to exhibit traits of another gender from time to time, you have to know what the symptoms and causes are.
Please know that these may or may not apply to you. Before transitioning, be very sure of yourself first and seek an expert because there will be a lot of repercussions in doing so.
Symptoms and Signs of Gender Dysphoria
Gender dysphoria manifests differently depending on age group. From DSM-5, health professionals tackling whether to diagnose gender dysphoria in children, adolescents, and adults should focus on the presence of the following symptoms.
- a disconnect, shown in 6 months or more, between the child’s experienced/expressed gender and the one that they were assigned at birth.
- obvious urge to be of another gender (or other gender identity such as non-binary) or their pronounced insisting that they are in fact, of another gender.
- in boys (assigned), a severe preference to wear something that simulates “female” clothing, and/or resistance to don clothing that’s made for “men”.
- in girls (assigned), a severe preference to wear something that simulates “male” clothing, and/or resistance to don clothing that’s made for “women”.
- severe want to assume cross-gender roles in make-belive or fantasy play.
- severe want for toys, games, hobbies, or activities that are mostly used by the other gender.
- severe repulsion on one’s anatomy.
If the 7 symptoms above are present, gender dysphoria may be diagnosed. Granted that these include clinically significant impairment or distress in major areas of functioning in life such as :
- social relationships
Adults and Adolescents
- a disconnect between the person’s expressed/experienced gender and top s*x characteristics (s*x organs) and/or secondary se*x characteristics “breasts, body hair) that lasts for at least 6 months.
- severe want to get rid of his/her primary and/or secondary s*x characteristics.
- severe want for the primary and/or secondary characteristics of s*x that’s exhibited by the other gender.
- severe want to live as the other gender (or an alternative one).
- severe conviction that one matches the typical feelings and reactions of the other or an alternative gender.
If at least 2 of the symptoms above are apparent, gender dysphoria may be diagnosed. Granted that these include clinically significant impairment or distress in major areas of functioning in life such as :
- social relationships
Cross-gender behaviors may begin as early as two years old. Which is also the start of the period of development in which children begin to express behaviors and interests based on their genders.
Gender dysphoria that takes place early in life (typically starts in childhood). It may continue into adolescence and adulthood; while late dysphoria may happen around the time of one’s puberty or much later in life.
Causes of Gender Dysphoria
There are no known proven studies of the causes of gender dysphoria yet. However, the top 3 suspects as to why it comes into play are:
- environmental factors
- and hormonal influences in the womb
Cross-gender interests and activities may manifest in a child between the ages of 2 to 4. And many parents report at a later time that their child has always shown interest in cross-gender. Only a little number of children with gender dysphoria continue to have these symptoms which they may carry on up until their adolescence or much later in life.
Normally, children who have it are referred to seek professional help at the time when they enter school, particularly if the relationships with friends prove to be challenging or parents find that their child’s gender identity issues are not just a phase.
The onset of gender dysphoria in adults normally occurs from early to mid-adulthood. The 2 common courses in developing gender dysphoria are :
- The first course – normally seen in late adolescence or adulthood, is the continuation of gender dysphoria that had an onset in childhood or early adolescence.
- The second course – is more overt signs of cross-gender identification which appear later and at a more gradual pace, with a clinical presentation in early to mid-adulthood stages.
Treatment of Gender Dysphoria
For children who have gender dysphoria, individual and family counseling is what’s best recommended. For adults, individual and/or couples therapy is what’s preferred.
- Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) or Hormonal Therapy
- Gender Reassignment Surgery (GRS)
are also part of the common approaches in treating gender dysphoria. However, these are not preferred by every individual that’s experiencing it.
Added to that, feelings of impairment may still go after these treatments. That’s when the possibility of psychotherapy should be discussed.
A lot of individuals are able to overcome these symptoms on their own without having the need for help; which is usually made possible by a more inclusive and tolerant environment.
However, one cannot discount how useful psychotherapy can be, most especially in bringing about the identity discovery that facilitates self-comfort and in dealing with severe emotions that may have come from challenges including social stigma and peers.
Those who have early diagnosis, supportive environment, and comprehensive treatment are the ones who often succeed in overcoming the dysphoria. If you’re dealing with it right now, it’s best to consult a specialist.
More information can be found on the American Psychiatric Association website.