Causes, Treatments, & Misperceptions
Gender dysphoria is a “condition, in which a person believes that he or she was born with the wrong sex’s genitals and is fundamentally a person of the opposite sex,” (Noel-Hoeksema, 2014). This means an individual has a sense of being the opposite sex of their biological sex. The individual may want to live, dress, and behave like the opposite sex. Gender dysphoria was previously named gender identity disorder and includes transgender and transsexuals. Symptoms vary between genders. While men may have disgust with their own genitals, reject male role activities, or would prefer not to have a penis; women reject urinating sitting down, prefer not to have breasts or to menstruate, and would rather have a penis. Gender dysphoria may also occur in children but is rare. The symptoms are the same within genders and start as early as preschool.
Causes of gender dysphoria are not subjected to one cause but are in favor of biological reasons. Some causes are exposure to unusual levels of hormones while in the womb, genetics, and environmental factors such as parenting. Those diagnosed with gender dysphoria may have had parents that did not discourage engaging in behavior that was out of the child’s sex role as a male or female. Another cause is the bed nucleus in the hypothalamus, which is half the size of men who have not been diagnosed with gender dysphoria and more comparable to the cluster of cells found in women’s brains.
Treatment options include cross-sex hormone therapy, full-time real-life experience in the desired gender role, and sex reassignment surgery. “Cross-sex hormone therapy stimulates the development of secondary sex characteristics of the preferred sex and suppresses secondary sex characteristics of the birth sex,” (Noel-Hoeksema, 2014). The estrogen hormone is given to male-to-female individuals and has results of a woman’s body (breasts, less facial hair). The testosterone hormone is given to female-to-male individuals and has results of masculinity (deep voice and body hair). Sex reassignment therapy typically has good outcomes but an individual should spend a year or more as the sex they want to be.
Common myths or misperceptions related to gender dysphoria are people choose to be this way, it’s just a phase, it is contagious, and it can be cured. Despite being on the DSM-5 in the United States, many countries have removed gender dysphoria from their classification system called the International Classification of Diseases (ICD). No one “chooses” to be gay, a lesbian, bisexual, or transgender. The main cause of gender dysphoria or anyone that is LGBT is not known. There are many theories but not a known main cause. Some may say genetics and others may say social influences. Since it is not just a phase, not contagious, and cannot be cured; it is just that people have preferences and are who they are. Being gender dysphoria may not be socially accepted but it isn’t any different than a heterosexual person choosing to be with someone of the opposite sex.