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 assigned gender at birth might experience gender dysphoria, including children, teens, and adults. This could include female-to-male transgender, male-to-female transgender, non-binary people, intersex people, gender-fluid people, or anyone else 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 wonder, "what is gender dysphoria?" Perhaps, you have a friend experiencing gender dysphoria, or maybe, it's something you're going through yourself.
What Is Gender Dysphoria?
The term gender dysphoria drives partly to the word dysphoria. Dysphoria means "a state of feeling very unhappy, uneasy, or dissatisfied," according to the Merriam-Webster dictionary. The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines gender dysphoria as "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 APA defines gender dysphoria 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 serves as a clinical marker of what you are experiencing so that you can get the appropriate affirming care. That said, gender dysphoria can cause significant distress, and understandably so. People who share 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
Several potential mental health complications may occur alongside or resulting from gender dysphoria. This is especially true if someone is unable to present the way that fits their identity, 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 to be withheld from them. Some potential conditions and symptoms that may occur alongside gender dysphoria include:
- Eating disorders
- Substance abuse
Mental health conditions such as eating disorders are statistically more common in the transgender population, so ensuring that people in the LGBTQIA+ community have the tangible resources and support they need is essential. If you display symptoms of a mental health condition such as an eating disorder, you must contact a medical or mental health professional who can help.
What Helps Gender Dysphoria?
Often, one's physical transition or engaging in gender-affirming practices or procedures that a person wishes to obtain helps gender dysphoria significantly. If someone wants to wear a binder to get 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 if the somewhen buys a binder; it is so that may help. 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's essential to speak 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 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 know you are transgender and are just starting to accept it, it is okay. It can be scary, but it's also a fascinating 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; 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, while others do not, and both are equally valid. If This can be a challenging time, it has peer support or family support; in this case, finding other members of the LGBTQIA+ community may be beneficial, as can seeking help 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 you identify with can be the most relieving and exciting feeling in the world. For example, if someone feels confident expressing their appearance how 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 community members 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 can't 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 fundamental level.
While therapists may or may not reveal what they've been through, some therapists have been through the same thing. You can find a gender dysphoria therapist or counselor searching the web for "gender dysphoria therapist near me." You can also search online for someone specializing in gender dysphoria or who works with the transgender population. You can also utilize an online therapy website to look at a counselor's profile and find someone 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 without insurance. It can also feel like a more comfortable fit for anyone talking about something like gender dysphoria for the first time, which can be scary. You deserve to feel understood and satisfied 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. Still, 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 gender dysphoria quiz, may confirm some of what you already know, but it can also give you new insights. After taking the test, you might have more ways to explain how you feel, and 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 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."
**Please consult a medical or mental health professional for all individual medical or mental health advice.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
How do I know if I have gender dysphoria?
Is gender dysphoria a form of anxiety?
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