Gender dysphoria occurs when there is a persistent sense of mismatch between one’s experienced gender and assigned gender..
What is Gender Dysphoria
Gender dysphoria (formerly gender identity disorder) is defined by strong, persistent feelings of identification with the opposite gender and discomfort with one’s own assigned sex that results in significant distress or impairment. This distress is not limited to a desire to simply be of the other gender, but may include a desire to be of an alternative gender.
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Understanding Gender Dysphoria
Identity issues may manifest in a variety of different ways. For example, some people with normal genitals and secondary sex characteristics of one gender privately identify more with the other gender.
Some may dress in clothes associated with the gender with which they identify, and some may seek hormone treatment or surgery as part of a transition to living full-time in the experienced gender.
The cause of gender dysphoria is unknown, but hormonal influences in the womb are suspected to be involved. The condition is rare and may occur in children or adults.
Cross-gender behaviors begin as early as 2 years, which is the start of the developmental period in which children begin expressing gendered behaviors and interests. Early-onset gender dysphoria typically starts in childhood and continues into adolescents and adulthood, which late-onset gender dysphoria occurs around puberty or much later in life.
Body dysphoria may lead an individual to feel uncomfortable with the entire body or only with certain parts of the body. Some may feel as if they were born into the “wrong” body, but others may use different language to describe their personal experience. Because each person’s experience differs, no broad statement can describe how an individual may be affected by dysphoria.
Social dysphoria can describe distress and discomfort that occurs as a result of how one is viewed by society. Assuming a person’s gender, using incorrect pronouns, or making assumptions about social roles in relation to gender can all be factors contributing to a person’s experience of social dysphoria.
Many work through feelings of dysphoria with the help of a trained therapist or counselor.
Individuals who wish to take hormones and/or pursue surgery to better align physical characteristics with their gender may find feelings of dysphoria begin to ease as they take these steps. These steps are offered after a year of therapy after making absolutely sure this is the best route. Some may simply live as their true gender without hormones or surgery.
Many individuals legally change their name and gender marker to reflect their true gender, and for many individuals, it may be the case that being socially recognized as a member of their actual gender and being addressed by the correct pronouns helps to ease feelings of dysphoria.
Gender dysphoria can be present in children or adolescents and adults, and can manifest differently in different age groups.
Children with gender dysphoria may manifest coexisting separation anxiety disorder, generalized anxiety disorder and symptoms of depression.
Adults may display anxiety and depressive symptoms. Some adult males have a history of paraphilias. Associated personality disorders are more common among males than among females being evaluated at adult gender clinics.
Signs of Gender Dysphoria?
Gender dysphoria is not the same as gender nonconformity, which refers to behaviors not matching the gender norms or stereotypes of the gender assigned at birth. The signs could begin as early as the age of 2. Here are some signs but not limited to both children and adults:
In adolescents and adults gender dysphoria diagnosis involves a difference between one’s experienced/expressed gender and assigned gender, and significant distress or problems functioning. It lasts at least six months and is shown by at least two of the following:
- 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
- Identifying more with the other gender
In children, gender dysphoria diagnosis involves at least six of the following and an associated significant distress or impairment in function, lasting at least six months.
- 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
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Key Benefits of Therapy at Exult
At Exult, we have multiple professionals who are licensed in helping your and your partner.
- Group therapy
- Individual therapy
- Access to on-site psychiatrist
- Providers work together
- Tailored program for your loved one
- Afternoon hours
- Yoga and Mindulness
We do take multiple insurances such as United, Blue Cross Blue Shield, Aetna, and Medicare but we suggest you discuss any major medical decisions with your insurance provider.
We offer medication management but we try to keep an open discussion between the client, therapist, and psychiatrist as to the needs of the client.
Therapy to cope with distress caused by gender dysphoria and to develop concrete feelings and desire to be of the other gender.