Reviewed by Aaron Horn, LMFT
The term gender dysphoria is said to have been coined in the year 1973. Gender dysphoria is a frequent experience among people who are transgender, though not every single person who is transgender faces gender dysphoria. Anyone who experiences a mismatch between their gender identity and their assigned gender at birth might experience gender dysphoria, including children, teens, and adults. This could include people who are female to male transgender, male to female transgender, non-binary people, intersex people, gender fluid people, or anyone else who is not of the gender they were assigned at birth. Research indicates that 73% of transgender women and 78% of transgender men experience gender dysphoria by the age of seven years old. If you’re reading this article, you might be wondering, “what is gender dysphoria?” Perhaps, you have a friend that is experiencing gender dysphoria, or maybe, it’s something you’re going through yourself.
What Is Gender Dysphoria?
The term gender dysphoria drives partly from the word dysphoria. Dysphoria means, “a state of feeling very unhappy, uneasy, or dissatisfied,” according to the Merriam Webster dictionary. The Merriam Webster dictionary definition of gender dysphoria is, “a distressed state arising from a conflict between a person's gender identity and the sex the person has or was identified as having at birth.” The American Psychological Association or APA defines gender dysphoria by saying, “as a general descriptive term [gender dysphoria] refers to an individual’s discontent with the assigned gender. It is more specifically defined when used as a diagnosis.”
In clinical settings, gender dysphoria is sometimes abbreviated as “GD.” Gender dysphoria is not a mental illness. It is simply a diagnosis that is there to serve as a clinical marker of what you are experiencing so that you can get the appropriate affirming care. That said, gender dysphoria can cause a great deal of distress, and understandably so. People who experience gender dysphoria may have a mental health condition that is aggravated by their gender dysphoria at times. For example, someone’s depression or social anxiety might worsen when their gender dysphoria is particularly pervasive or severe.
Mental Health Impacts Of Gender Dysphoria
There are a number of potential mental health complications that may occur alongside or as a result of gender dysphoria. This is especially true if someone is unable to present the way that fits their identity, or if they are unable to come out as transgender, unable to express their gender identity in a way that suits them best for any reason, or if gender reaffirming care that they want and need is being withheld from them. Some potential conditions and symptoms that may occur alongside gender dysphoria include:
- Eating disorders
- Substance abuse
- Suicidal ideation
Mental health conditions such as eating disorders are statistically more common in the transgender population, so it is particularly important to ensure that people in the LGBTQIA+ community have the tangible resources and support that they need. If you are in immediate danger of harming yourself or someone else, please call 911 or go to your nearest emergency room. Additionally, if you display symptoms of a mental health condition such as an eating disorder, it is essential to reach out to a medical or mental health professional who can help.
What Helps Gender Dysphoria?
Often, one's physical transition or engaging in any gender-affirming practices or procedures that a person wishes to obtain helps gender dysphoria significantly. If someone wants to wear a binder to obtain the appearance of a flatter chest, that may help with their gender dysphoria to some degree. That doesn’t mean that gender dysphoria will go away the moment that someone buys a binder; it is simply something that may help. All of these choices are highly individual; it’s about what the person wants and what makes them feel good. People experiencing gender dysphoria may benefit from peer support or talking to a therapist or counselor who understands. It’simportant to talk to someone who gets it in a world where it can be hard to find someone who does.
Dysphoria Vs. Dysmorphia
Though “dysphoria” and “dysmorphia” are terms that sound similar when spoken out loud, they are not the same. Gender dysphoria refers to dysphoria or discomfort caused by a mismatch between someone’s true gender and someone’s assigned gender at birth, and dysmorphia is most often used in the context of body dysmorphia or body dysmorphic disorder (BDD).
What Does Cisgender Mean?
First, let’s cover the meaning of gender identity. Gender identity refers to the gender that someone aligns with. It is not the same as gender expression, which refers to the outward expression of someone’s gender. Cisgender refers to when, at birth, someone is assigned the gender they align with. A cisgender female, for example, is a person who was assigned female at birth, feels female, and identifies as female. Someone who’s transgender doesn’t align with the gender they were assigned at birth, hence why gender dysphoria may occur. Gender dysphoria might provoke anxiety, stress, anger, and a range of other emotions.
If you’re looking for an “am I trans quiz” “transgender test,” “am I trans test” “am I transgender quiz,” “gender identity test male to female,” or “am I trans test,” you might be grappling with the question, “is what I’m experiencing gender dysphoria?” Even if you aren’t sure of your gender identity yet, or if you know that you are transgender and are just starting to accept it, it is okay. It can be scary, but it’s also a very exciting time. If you’re wondering, “what is my gender identity?” it is okay. Some people don’t fit in the gender binary at all. Some people take time to understand their gender identity, and you deserve to identify as whatever you are. Every path is valid.
Remember that everyone will feel comfortable with or drawn toward different things in terms of gender expression and that it is okay. Some people want to undergo gender reassignment surgery, where other people do not, and both are equally as valid. If you don’t have peer support or family support, this can be a particularly difficult time. In this case, finding other members of the LGBTQIA+ community may be beneficial, as can seeking support from a mental health professional.
What Is Gender Euphoria?
Gender euphoria is, essentially, the very opposite of gender dysphoria. It is when someone feels in alignment with their gender, making them feel good; possibly even over the moon or joyous. If you are cisgender, you may not understand the feelings of gender euphoria. For someone who is not cisgender, feeling in alignment with the gender identity that you identify with can be the most relieving and exciting feeling in the world. For example, if someone feels confident that they’re expressing their appearance the way they want to through apparel, they might experience gender euphoria.
Finding an LGBTQIA+ therapist
Finding an LGBTQIA+ therapist can be very beneficial to people who experience gender dysphoria. Many people within the community will benefit from seeing an LGBTQIA+ therapist** the most because it provides a sense of safety and understanding. Sometimes, people hold back from going to therapy because they fear that a therapist might not understand something like gender dysphoria, especially if you aren’t able to learn anything about your therapist before seeing them. Part of the comfort of seeing someone who specializes in gender dysphoria or working with the transgender population is that you won’t have to spend time explaining everything that you go through on a basic level.
While a therapist may or may not reveal what they’ve been through, there are therapists out there who have been through the same thing. You can find a gender dysphoria therapist or counselor by searching the web for “gender dysphoria therapist near me.” You can also search online for someone who specializes in gender dysphoria or working with the transgender population. You can also utilize an online therapy website where you can look at a counselors profile and find someone who is likely to fit your needs. One benefit of online therapy is that it’s often cheaper and more convenient than traditional in-person therapy or counseling is without insurance. It can also feel like a more comfortable fit for anyone who is talking about something like gender dysphoria for the first time, which can be scary. You deserve to feel understood and comfortable with a mental health professional, and if you ever feel like a therapist doesn’t get it or like they aren’t the right fit, never be afraid to switch.
Take The Mind Diagnostics Gender Dysphoria Test
The gender dysphoria quiz on Mind Diagnostics is not a replacement for individual medical or mental health advice, but it might be the first step to identifying gender dysphoria, and it can tell you if gender dysphoria might be what you’re experiencing. Taking a gender identity test, gender identity quiz, or a gender dysphoria quiz, may confirm some of what you already know, but it can give you new insights as well. After taking the test, you might have more ways to explain how you feel and how gender dysphoria impacts you.
Click here to take the gender dysphoria test.
*The GLAAD website defines gender expression as the “External manifestations of gender, expressed through a person's name, pronouns, clothing, haircut, behavior, voice, and/or body characteristics. Society identifies these cues as masculine and feminine, although what is considered masculine or feminine changes over time and varies by culture. Typically, transgender people seek to align their gender expression with their gender identity, rather than the sex they were assigned at birth.”
**For all individual medical or mental health advice, please consult a medical or mental health professional.