Gender Dysphoria

4 Min Read

Zohan Araz Khan


What is Gender Dysphoria?

Gender dysphoria is a mental condition that transgender or gender non-conforming people commonly have, but it is different for each individual.

“Dysphoria” refers to a feeling of discomfort, distress, and unhappiness.

Gender dysphoria is linked with one’s innate gender identity; their inner sense of themselves. So, gender dysphoria is when a person feels immense stress because their innate gender identity does not match up to their assigned sex or biological sex.

The words “disconnect” or “incongruence” help explain this condition more. A disconnect between how they see themselves and how people see them. The sex assigned at birth/biological sex is on the basis of the appearance of the genitals. When there is no connection between their gender identity and their biological sex, the person feels dysphoric and they experience an urge to present themselves according to their identity to create a connection.

Different trans people may be uncomfortable with different aspects of their assigned sex, their body, their presentation, the gender role expected of them, and so on.


How is Gender Dysphoria perceived in the medical field?

“Gender Dysphoria” replaced the term “Gender Identity Disorder” in the DSM-5 which was published in 2013. This was because, while gender dysphoria is a medical condition, it is not a mental illness or disorder.


What causes this condition?

There can be many variations that can cause a mismatch between a person’s biological sex and their gender identity.

But the major cause lies behind how the hormones linked with the development of biological sex trigger the brain, reproductive organs, and genitals, causing differences between them.

  • There’s no such thing as a “male” or “female” brain, exactly. But at least a few brain characteristics, such as density of the gray matter or size of the hypothalamus, do tend to differ between the two genders.
  • In the womb, the hormone levels affect how your brain develops. Additional hormones in the mother’s system as a result of taking medication can trigger the functions of hormones.
  • The fetus’ insensitivity to the hormones, known as androgen insensitivity syndrome (AIS), can cause gender dysphoria. This is resulted from the hormones not working properly in the womb.

It turns out transgender people’s brains may more closely resemble the brains of their self-identified gender than those of the gender assigned at birth.


How does it affect one’s health?

Not being able to get appropriate help and support, some people may try to suppress their feelings. But, most are unable to do so.

Having to suppress such emotions can potentially ruin their mental health. Gender dysphoria is often linked with anxiety, depression, schizophrenia, and BPD. The high suicide rate among transgender people is also thought to be linked to gender dysphoria.


What are the treatment procedures?

The goal of the treatment in this case is to remove or reduce the distress caused by gender dysphoria. But the treatment procedure can be different for each individual.

Some might just prefer to dress and live as their preferred gender, while some opt for taking hormones and undergoing surgery to change their physical appearance.


Many people with gender dysphoria face prejudice and misunderstanding, but a little effort to understand their situation can make their lives way easier.


This post was created in collaboration with TransEnd and ProjectDebi. 

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