Gender dysphoria refers to the discomfort and distress in individuals whose gender identity is different from their sex at birth. Transgender, as well as gender-nonconforming people, can experience gender dysphoria during their lives. Gender dysphoria doesn’t affect every person whose gender identity differs from their assigned sex at birth. In some instances, transgender and gender-nonconforming people feel comfortable in their bodies and don’t need medical intervention. If you’re experiencing gender dysphoria, know that you’re not alone. Many people have gone through these issues, and they’ve gotten the support they needed to feel comfortable in their bodies.
The diagnosis and what it means
The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) published by the American Psychiatric Association lists gender dysphoria as a medical diagnosis. It’s a term that was previously referred to as “gender identity disorder,” but is more precise. Gender dysphoria doesn’t focus on the identity issue but more about the uncomfortable feeling of being in a body that doesn’t match one’s mind. When a person gets a diagnosis of gender dysphoria, they can get effective health care and treatment.
What are the symptoms?
You may be wondering: do I have gender dysphoria. The sure way to discover the truth is to understand the symptoms. You will know if you have gender dysphoria if there’s a pronounced difference between your internal gender identity and the assigned gender. These symptoms need to last at least six months and include at least two of these signs:
- A marked difference between your inner gender identity or primary and secondary sex attributes, or anticipatory secondary sex attributes in young adults.
- An urge or compulsion to get rid of primary or secondary sex characteristics due to a pronounced difference between a person’s inner gender identity, or a desire to stop the developing anticipated secondary sex attributes in young adults
- A strong need for an individual’s primary or secondary sex attributes of the other gender
An intense desire to be the other gender or another gender that differs from the person’s assigned gender at birth
- A profound need for an individual to be treated as another gender that differs from their assigned gender
- A strong belief that the person has common feelings and reactions of the identified gender that is different from the assigned gender
- Marked distress or problems in social, occupational, or other areas of one’s life where the dysphoria impacts functioning
If you have two or more of these symptoms, it’s essential to see a medical professional and work with a mental health provider. Gender dysphoria can be extremely uncomfortable and cause a person to be anxious or severely depressed. That’s why getting help is crucial. When you’re reading these signs and symptoms, don’t be alarmed. You can get support for the condition.
How do I get help?
One of the most reliable ways to get a gender dysphoria diagnosis is through a behavioral health evaluation. Your medical provider evaluates your case to affirm the dichotomy of your gender identity with the assigned sex at birth. The provider will go through your medical and mental health history. They will discuss your development, and when you began to experience gender dysphoric feelings. Your medical provider will discuss ways to get support and how to talk to your friends and family. You can learn more about gender dysphoria online or talk about it with a skilled mental health professional, such as a remote therapist. Online therapy is a safe space to discuss gender identity and gender dysphoria. You can choose a therapist who specializes in these areas and who gets what you’re experiencing. It helps to have an empathetic mental health provider who wants you to feel comfortable in your own skin. It’s possible to get to that point. Reaching out for help is the first step on your road to self-acceptance.
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