Gender Dysphoria

Gender Dysphoria Therapist

Gender refers to the socially constructed characteristics of women and men. Gender norms and roles varies from society to society and can be changed. Most people are born either physically male or physically female and are taught gender norms and behaviors congruent with their assigned gender. Assigned gender is based on visible physical sex characteristics at birth.

Gender identities do not necessarily fit into binary male or female sex categories. A person may have a non-binary gender identity, meaning they do not clearly identify as a man or a woman – they could identify as both, neither, or as a gender other than male or female. Additionally, Agender people do not identify with any gender. Unfortunately, when individuals or groups do not “fit” established gender norms they often face stigma, discriminatory practices or social exclusion – all of which adversely affect health.

What Is Gender Dysphoria?

Gender dysphoria involves a conflict between a person's physical or assigned gender and the gender with which he/she/they identify. The conflict between the way a person with gender dysphoria feels and think of themselves (referred to as experienced or expressed gender) and their physical or assigned gender can result in significant distress and impaired functioning in daily life. 

Key Facts

  • Gender dysphoria is associated with increased rates of other mental disorders due to high levels of stigmatization, discrimination and victimization
  • Transgender individuals are at higher risk of victimization and hate crimes than the general population
  • Adolescents and adults with gender dysphoria are at increased risk for suicide
  •  Children with gender dysphoria are at higher risk of emotional and behavioral problems, including anxiety and depression

Diagnosis of Gender Dysphoria

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) provides specific criteria for children and for adolescents and adults. Children, adolescents, and adults must demonstrate significant distress or problems functioning related to the difference between their experienced/expressed gender and assigned gender for a period of six months or more.

Children (must meet at least at least six criteria)

  • A strong desire to be of the other gender or an insistence that one is the other gender
  • A strong preference for wearing clothes typical of the opposite gender
  • A strong preference for cross-gender roles in make-believe play or fantasy play
  • A strong preference for the toys, games or activities stereotypically used or engaged in by the other gender
  • A strong preference for playmates of the other gender
  • A strong rejection of toys, games and activities typical of one’s assigned gender
  • A strong dislike of one’s sexual anatomy
  •  A strong desire for the physical sex characteristics that match one’s experienced gender

Adults and Adolescents (must meet at least at least two criteria)

  • A marked incongruence between one’s experienced/expressed gender and primary and/or secondary sex characteristics
  • A strong desire to be rid of one’s primary and/or secondary sex characteristics
  • A strong desire for the primary and/or secondary sex characteristics of the other gender
  • A strong desire to be of the other gender
  • A strong desire to be treated as the other gender
  • A strong conviction that one has the typical feelings and reactions of the other gender

Next Steps

If you are concerned about your own or your child's mental health Edgar Psychological can help with individual and family therapy.

Psychologists that Specialize in Gender Dysphoria

Jessica Blake has extensive experience providing treatment for gender dysphoria.

References

American Psychiatric Association. (2018). Gender Dysphoria. Retrieved from American Psychiatric Association: https://www.psychiatry.org/patients-families/gender-dysphoria/what-is-gender-dysphoria

Gender Spectrum. (2018). Dimensions of Gender. Retrieved from Understanding Gender: https://www.genderspectrum.org/quick-links/understanding-gender/

World Health Organization. (2018). Gender, equity and human rights. Retrieved from World Health Organization: http://www.who.int/gender-equity-rights/understanding/gender-definition/en/