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Understanding Gender Dysphoria: Symptoms, Diagnosis and Treatment

Posted: April 21, 2020

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Gender Dysphoria is an important diagnosis that needs to be closely explored and understood, especially its symptoms, diagnosis as well as treatment.

People with gender dysphoria feel strongly that their gender does not correspond with the sex they were assigned at birth. For example, a person with all the physical traits of a male might feel  that he is actually a female. Similarly, someone with the physical characteristics of a female would feel her true identity is male.

Feeling that your body does not reflect your gender can cause severe distress, anxiety and depression. “Dysphoria” is a feeling of dissatisfaction, anxiety, and restlessness. With gender dysphoria, the discomfort with your male or female body can be so intense that it can interfere with your normal life, for instance at school or work or during social activities.

Gender Non-Conforming (GNC) also known as gender variance, is a broader term that can include people with gender dysphoria. But it can also describe people who feel that they are neither only male or only females. Informally, people who identify with both genders or with neither gender might call themselves “genderqueer” Gender dysphoria is not homosexuality as your internal sense of your gender is not the same as your sexual orientation.

Symptoms & Diagnosis

To be diagnosed with gender dysphoria, a person has to have symptoms that last for at least 6 months.

In children, these symptoms may include:

  1. Consistently saying they are really a girl even though they have the physical traits of a boy or really a boy if they have the physical traits of a girl
  2. Strongly preferring friends of the sex with which they identify
  3. Rejecting the clothes, toys, and games typical for boys or girls
  4. Refusing to urinate in the way — standing or sitting — that other boys or girls typically do
  5. Saying they want to get rid of their genitals and have the genitals of their true sex
  6. Believing that even though they have the physical traits of a girl they will grow up to be a man; or believing if they have the physical traits of a boy they will still be a woman when they grow up
  7. Having extreme distress about the body changes that happen during puberty

In teens and adults, symptoms may include:

  1. Certainty that their true gender is not aligned with their body.
  2. Disgust with their genitals. They may avoid showering, changing clothes, or having sex in order to avoid seeing or touching their genitals.
  3. Strong desire to be rid of their genitals and other sex traits.


    The goal is not to change how the person feels about his or her gender. Instead, the goal is to deal with the distress that may come with those feelings.

    Talking with a psychologist or psychiatrist is part of any treatment for gender dysphoria. “Talk” therapy is one way to address the mental health issues that this condition can cause.

    Image Source: Trivitron Healthcare

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