WHAT IS GENDER DYSPHORIA?
Gender dysphoria is more than adhering to nonconforming beliefs about stereotypical gender roles and behaviors. Individuals suffering from gender dysphoria experience strong feelings of distress, resulting from an intense desire to be another gender than the one assigned at birth. Further, the prevalence of gender-variant activities and interests can cause significant stress to the gender dysphoria sufferer.
It is common for gender dysphoria to arise in adolescence, though it can be diagnosed at any time in a patient’s life.
COMMON SYMPTOMS OF GENDER DYSPHORIA
The core characteristic of gender dysphoria is the decreased quality of life and severe psychological distress produced by an individual’s desire to be another gender than the one they are currently assigned. In patients of all ages, the misalignment between their assigned gender and their experienced or expressed gender – and specifically, the resulting distress – is the primary symptom of gender dysphoria.
Other signs of gender dysphoria may include:
- Negative feelings due to the extent of gender-variant activities and/or interests
- The desire to change one’s primary and/or secondary sex characteristics
- In adolescents, the wish to avoid the development of expected secondary sex characteristics (often expressed in intense anxiety surrounding puberty)
- The desire to be treated as a gender that is alternative to the one assigned at birth
- In adolescents, gender dysphoria may mimic the symptoms of a mood disorder, depression, anxiety, or social/academic challenges
It is important to understand that gender identity is separate from both gender expression and sexual orientation. Gender dysphoria is specifically related to gender identity, which is an individual’s psychological perception of their own gender.
DIAGNOSIS AND TREATMENT OF GENDER DYSPHORIA
Diagnosis of gender dysphoria can be a complex process, but it is guided by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5). As stated in the DSM-5, gender dysphoria may present itself in a diverse range of symptoms, and the diagnostic process is generally different for children than it is for adolescents and adults.
One of the critical diagnostic criteria for gender dysphoria is the psychological distress caused by an individual’s belief that their assigned gender is incongruent with their experienced/expressed gender.
Elevate Psychiatry can help individuals suffering from gender dysphoria, supporting individualized plans that may include:
Professional counseling and support services to reduce psychological distress
Referrals for medical treatment, if desired
Please note that our gender dysphoria treatment approach does not aim to alter your gender identity. Instead, the goal is to support improved psychological well-being and a sense of self-fulfillment.