What is Gender Dysphoria?
Gender dysphoria is the term used when someone experiences distress from their body based on their gender identity or expression.
In other words, someone who was born biologically one sex and assigned a specific gender. If this person feels distressed surrounding their body, genitals, and / or other aspects of their body. Anything that may amplify their biological sex or gender assigned at birth may cause more gender dysphoria.
Biological sex is determined based on genital presentation at birth (usually male or female) and then there is a “labeled” or assigned a gender based on that (for example: girl or boy).
For some individuals, as they age throughout their life (and even as early as childhood), they do not identify with their assigned gender.
Someone’s gender identity is what someone experiences as their gender. Whereas someone’s gender expression is how someone shows their gender through dress, hair, make up, etc.
When someone’s assigned gender does not feel congruent with their gender identity, it often results in gender dysphoria.
This distress is common in folks who are gender non-conforming. Therefore, the result may lead to individuals engaging in gender affirmation treatments (such as surgeries, using hormones, or binding, etc.)
What are the symptoms of Gender Dysphoria?
Here is what gender dysphoria may look like:
- Feelings that your biological sex does not match your gender identity
- Feeling comfort with another gendered experience than what was assigned at birth
- Strong desire to hide and / or get rid of physical signs of your sex
- Discomfort around genitals or chest
- Insistence of being a different gender
- Distress while physical changes are happening during puberty (not typical experiences of hormones changing or mood swings, etc)
Although these may be the most common or obvious ways that dysphoria can be seen. This brief list does not cover the whole scope of what could be experienced by others’ experience of gender dysphoria.
How to Get or Give Support
Gender dysphoria is a complicated concept for many to understand and requires a level of competence and / or education to be able to support.
Individuals who are experiencing gender dysphoria often get discrimination for this. It is important to consider medical providers who have experience in this area.
Similarly, you can encourage someone that may be experiencing gender dysphoria to find new support systems and places where they are able to be themselves.
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