What is gender dysphoria?
Gender identity is your inner sense of being male, female, both, neither, or some other gender. For transgender people, their gender identity does not match the sex that they were assigned at birth. Sometimes gender identity is outside the two most common categories of male or female. People who feel this way may use the term "non-binary."
Dysphoria means feeling distressed or uneasy. Gender dysphoria is a feeling of emotional distress because your gender identity doesn't match the sex that you were assigned at birth.
What are the symptoms?
Many, but not all, transgender people have gender dysphoria. Symptoms can include feeling:
- Uncomfortable or upset about parts of your body.
- Anxious or depressed.
The feeling that something is different may start early in life. Many transgender adults remember feeling this way well before their teen years. Others didn't feel this way until much later in life.
If you are openly transgender, you may be under a lot of extra stress because of discrimination in the community. If you're not openly transgender, you may have stress from hiding who you really are. Rejection, prejudice, fear, and confusion cause long-term stress in many transgender people.
How is gender dysphoria diagnosed?
Gender dysphoria may be diagnosed when you talk with your doctor about feeling upset or distressed that your gender identity isn't the same as your physical or assigned gender. Children with gender dysphoria may have similar feelings as adults, including not liking their body.
How is it treated?
Treatment is focused on easing the symptoms of distress through acceptance and support for the person who has gender dysphoria.
If you have gender dysphoria, it's important to realize that there are a lot of people who are transgender. Many of them have the same problems, emotions, and questions that you have. There are people like you, whether you are openly transgender, are not letting others know that you are transgender, or have a friend or family member who is transgender.
It can be comforting and helpful to talk to people who know what you're going through.
You can find these people through local or online groups. If you don't know where to find support, check with:
- Your doctor.
- Your school counsellor or a trusted teacher.
- A therapist or other counsellor.
- Websites and online organizations. You can find a list of organizations on the PFLAG Canada website at www.pflagcanada.ca.
What if your child has gender dysphoria?
Many parents have a hard time accepting that their child is transgender. Even if you are struggling, remember that it's important to show unconditional love to your child.
Teens who realize that they are transgender sometimes don't reveal their sexual orientation or gender identity for a long time. They may be afraid of what their friends, family, and others will say and do. They can feel relief when they come out to their family and friends and find love, support, and acceptance.
How can you support someone with gender dysphoria?
- Learn all you can about gender identity.
- Learn to use the right pronouns ("he," "him," "she," "her," "they," "them," "ze," "zir"). Don't be afraid to ask which pronouns the person prefers.
- If the person is changing their name, use that new name when you talk to or about the person.
Current as of: September 23, 2020
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review: Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine
Elizabeth T. Russo MD - Internal Medicine
Christine R. Maldonado PhD - Behavioral Health