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The Gender Dysphoria Guide and What You Must Know

Amanda Valentine Dela Cruz

Here at My Transsexual Date, we don’t only touch the bases related to the world of transgender dating. If you’ve stumbled upon here because you’re planning to have a relationship with a trans-oriented partner, you first must know the root of why they are the way they are.

If you’re an individual who’s seeking answers, you’re going to learn a lot about your gender dysphoria. Keep reading, most especially if you find that it’s starting to affect different aspects of your life.

What is Gender Dysphoria ?

Girl with gender dysphoria

Gender Dysphoria (also known as gender identity disorder before, in the 4th version of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, or DSM) is identified as severe, concurrent feelings of identifying with another gender and disapproval with one’s assigned gender that’s based on their genitalia. For these feelings to be qualified with a diagnosis of gender dysphoria, they must result in apparent impairment or distress.

Individuals with gender dysphoria mostly want to live according to their gender identity and dress-up and perform mannerisms that are mostly associated with the gender that they identify with in order to pacify the disorder.

Gender dysphoric feelings may show in a variety of different ways. An individual born with a penis, for example, may identify as a woman in private, while another may choose hormone replacement therapy (HRT) or sex reassignment surgery (SRS) in order to get rid of gender dysphoria.

Is Gender Dysphoria a Mental Disorder?

girl mental disorder

It is a mental disorder but NOT a mental illness.

It’s also not synonymous with gender non-conformity which just deals with not abiding by the norms that are dictated by the society when it comes to how one gender should act.

Because people often associate the word “disorder” to something negative, gender identity disorder (GID) was renamed gender dysphoria in order to describe a person with non-congruent sex and gender.

Gender Dysphoria Levels

transgender women with gender dysphoria

Gender Dysphoria’s definition is not black and white. Gender Dysphoria also varies in levels.

Some trans people are completely fine in keeping their genitals and are okay with living as the gender they identify with without having to undergo a full transition; while some, go all the way and find peace of mind in knowing that everything about them matches with the gender that they identify with.

However, please don’t confuse the former people with being amenable to being addressed by the gender based on their genitals because they still fully recognize themselves the gender that they identify with, albeit still keeping what they have.

Do I have Gender Dysphoria?

To fully know if you’re indeed a transgender person and not just someone who wants to exhibit traits of another gender from time to time, you have to know what the symptoms and causes are.

Please know that these may or may not apply to you so before transitioning, be very sure of yourself first and seek an expert because there will be a lot of repercussions in doing so.

Symptoms of Gender Dysphoria

Gender dysphoria manifests differently depending on age groups. From DSM-5, health professionals tackling whether to diagnose gender dysphoria in children, adolescents, and adults should focus on the presence of the following symptoms :


  • a disconnect, shown in 6 months or more, between the child’s experienced/expressed gender and the one that they were assigned at birth ;
  • obvious urge to be of another gender (or other gender identity such as non-binary) or their pronounced insisting that they are in fact, of another gender ;
  • in boys (assigned), a severe preference to wear something that simulates “female” clothing, and/or resistance to don clothing that’s made for “men” ;
  • in girls (assigned), a severe preference to wear something that simulates “male” clothing, and/or resistance to don clothing that’s made for “women” ;
  • severe want to assume cross-gender roles in make-belive or fantasy play ;
  • severe want for toys, games, hobbies, or activities that are mostly used by the other gender ;
  • severe repulsion on one’s sexual anatomy.

If the 7 symptoms above are present, gender dysphoria may be diagnosed if these include clinically significant impairment or distress in major areas of functioning in life such as :

  • social relationships ;
  • school ;
  • home.

Adults and Adolescents

  • a disconnect between the person’s expressed/experienced gender and top sex characteristics (sexual organs) and/or secondary sex characteristics “breasts, body hair) that lasts for at least 6 months ;
  • severe want to get rid of his/her primary and/or secondary sex characteristics ;
  • severe want for the primary and/or secondary characteristics of sex that’s exhibited by the other gender ;
  • severe want to live as the other gender (or an alternative one) ;
  • severe conviction that one matches the typical feelings and reactions of the other or an alternative gender.

If at least 2 of the symptoms above are apparent, gender dysphoria may be diagnosed if thes include clinically significant impairment or distress in major areas of functioning in life such as :

  • social relationships ;
  • school ;
  • home.

Cross-gender behaviors may begin as early as two years old, which is also the start of the period of development in which children begin to express behaviors and interests based on their genders.

Gender dysphoria that takes place early in life, typically starts in childhood and may continue into adolescence and adulthood; while late gender dysphoria, may happen around the time of one’s puberty or much later in life.

Causes of Gender Dysphoria

women drinking tea

There are no known proven studies of the causes of gender dysphoria yet. However, genes, environmental factors, and hormonal influences in the womb are the top 3 suspects as to why gender dysphoria comes into play.

Cross-gender interests and activities may manifest in a child between the ages of 2 to 4, and many parents report at a later time that their child has always shown interests in cross-gender. Only a little number of children with gender dysphoria continue to have these symptoms which they may carry on up until their adolescence or much later in life.

Normally, children who have gender dysphoria are referred to seek professional help at the time when they enter school, particularly if the relationships with friends prove to be challenging or parents find that their child’s gender identity issues are not just a phase.

The onset of gender dysphoria in adults normally occurs from early to mid-adulthood. The 2 common courses in developing gender dysphoria are :

  • The first course – normally seen in late adolescence or adulthood, is the continuation of gender dysphoria that had an onset in childhood or early adolescence.
  • The second course – is more overt signs of cross-gender identification which appear later and at a more gradual pace, with a clinical presentation in early to mid-adulthood stages.

Treatment of Gender Dysphoria

women with gender dysphoria

For children who have gender dysphoria, individual and family counseling are what’s best recommended, while for adults, individual and/or couples therapy is what’s preferred. Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) and Sex Reassignment Surgery (SRS) are also part of the common approaches in treating gender dysphoria but these are not preferred by every individual that’s experiencing it.

Added to that, feelings of impairment may still go after these treatments and that’s when the possibility of psychotherapy should be discussed.

A lot of individuals are able to overcome these symptoms on their own without having the need for help ; which is usually made possible by a more inclusive and tolerant environment.

However, one cannot discount how useful psychotherapy can be, most especially in bringing about the identity discovery that facilitates self-comfort and in dealing with severe emotions that may have come from challenges including social stigma and peers.

Those who have early diagnosis, supportive environment, and comprehensive treatment are the ones who often succeed in overcoming gender dysphoria. If you’re dealing with it right now, it’s best to consult a specialist.

Posted in Love and Relationship

About the author

Amanda Valentine Dela Cruz
Just a random trans woman playing with makeup and skincare. Loves bacon and the operating table. I'm also the author of the dating guide book Dating Transgender Women for Gentlemen. Know more ->

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