Gender Dysphoria

Condition Basics

What is gender dysphoria?

Dysphoria means feeling distressed or uneasy. Gender dysphoria is a feeling of emotional distress because your inner sense of your gender (gender identity) doesn't match the sex that you were assigned at birth.

For transgender people, their gender identity doesn't match the sex that they were assigned at birth. Many, but not all, transgender people have gender dysphoria.

What are the symptoms?

Symptoms of gender dysphoria may include feeling:

  • Uncomfortable or upset about parts of your body.
  • Anxious or depressed.
  • Stressed.

If you're openly transgender, you may feel extra stress because of discrimination in the community. If you're not openly transgender, you may have stress from hiding who you really are. Rejection, prejudice, and fear can cause long-term stress.

How is it diagnosed?

Gender dysphoria may be diagnosed when you talk with your doctor about feeling upset or distressed that your gender identity isn't the same as your physical or assigned gender. Children with gender dysphoria may have similar feelings as adults, including not liking their body.

How is gender dysphoria treated?

Treatment focuses on easing the symptoms of gender dysphoria. Counseling and support can help. Some people benefit from makeup, haircuts, or clothes that reflect their gender identity. Some have medical treatment to help their body match their gender identity. Treatments range from hormones to surgery.

If you have gender dysphoria, it's important to realize that there are lots of people whose gender doesn't match the sex they were assigned at birth. Many have the same problems, emotions, and questions that you have.

It can be comforting and helpful to talk to people who know what you're going through. You can find these people through local or online groups. If you don't know where to find support, check with:

  • Your doctor.
  • Your school counselor or a trusted teacher.
  • A therapist or other counselor.
  • Websites and online organizations. You can find a list of organizations at the LGBT National Help Center (www.glnh.org).

How can you support someone with gender dysphoria?

Many, but not all, transgender people have gender dysphoria. It may take time to adjust when you learn that someone you care about has gender dysphoria. But even if you're adjusting, there are things you can do to help the person who has this condition.

  • Show unconditional love and support.

    Gender dysphoria can cause great distress. Feeling loved, supported, and accepted can help.

  • Respect the person's choices.
    • Ask which pronouns the person prefers ("he/him," "she/her," "they/them," "ze/zir"). Then use those pronouns.
    • If the person is changing their name, always use the new name when you talk to or about the person.
  • Learn all you can about gender identity.

    Organizations such as Parents, Families, and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) can help. Go to their website at www.pflag.org to find a list of other useful groups.

Credits

Current as of: February 11, 2021

Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:
Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine
Elizabeth T. Russo MD - Internal Medicine
Christine R. Maldonado PhD - Behavioral Health