Gender Dysphoria

Gender Identity Disorder

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What is Gender Dysphoria

To begin let’s understand the difference between the two terms sex and gender. Sex refers to the biological makeup or external/internal physical anatomy of male or female whereas gender refers to the expected roles, behaviors, and activities males and females take in their environment (i.e. what society expects males or females to be). Gender dysphoria is when there is a discrepancy between the individuals’ gender identity (i.e. sense of themselves as male or female) and their biological sex (Nolan-Hoeksema, 2014). For example, although an individual may be biologically male but internal feels like he should be, or is, a female.
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More about diagnosis and symptoms

Besides the mentioned feeling here are other common symptoms, as reported on (n.d.)
  • Desire to live as a person of the opposite sex
  • Desire to be rid of their own genitals
  • Dressing and behaving in a manner typical of the opposite sex
  • Withdrawal from social interaction and activity
  • Feelings of isolation, depression, and anxiety

Possible Causes of Gender Identity Disorder

There are two main ideas (theories) about the possible factors are biological and psychosocial. There are three ideas within the biological theories. The first being that the individuals who were develop gender identity disorder have been exposed to either high or low levels of androgens (hormones like testosterone). Another theory is that a cluster of cells in the hypothalamus, which plays a role in sexual behavior, has been found to be disproportionate (or opposite) in size in those who have the disorder. In other words in men this cluster is twice as large than in women, but with the disorder the size in increased for female to male gender dysphoria and smaller for male to female gender dysphoria (Nolen-Hoeksema, 2014). The last biological theory is the possibility of genetic abnormalities, but this has not been studied enough to produce any clear theories.

The other theory is a focus on psychosocial factors and theorizes that parents; preference for a boy or girl and parent-child interactions (e.g., whether parents discourage cross-gender behavior – whether overtly or subconsciously) may sometimes play an additional, although smaller role (Bradley & Zucker, 1997 as cited by King, 2012). This theory as with biological theories has not been sufficiently proven either. This disorder is often present in very young children (before children even begin to understand their sexual identities. Here below is a link to the story of one such child. At the age of two this girl (then boy) very clearly wanted to be a girl.

7yr. old girl Jazz ~ thoughts on being a Transgender Child

Treatment Options

It is important to remember that Gender dysphoria, (gender identity disorder) (GID), is the formal diagnosis used by psychologists and physicians to describe persons with dysphoria (discontent) with the sex their sex and/or the gender roles associated with that sex. It is not just a simple feeling; it should be dealt with professionally. Therapists who work with people with gender Dysphoria help these individuals clarify their gender identity or experienced gender and their desire for treatment (Nolen-Hoeksema, 2014). In addition to psychotherapy, there are three principal treatments for gender Dysphoria: (1) cross-sex hormone therapy, (2) full-time real-life experience in the desired gender role, and (3) sex reassignment surgery, which provides the genitalia and secondary sex characteristics (e.g. breasts) of the gender with which the individual identifies (Byne et al, as cited by Nolen-Hoeksema, 2014).

What are the myths that are out there?

It is important to understand that gender dysphoria has nothing to do with sexual orientation (in other words it has nothing to do with homosexuality). It also is not the same as Transvestic disorder. Transvestic disorder is an individual dressing in opposite sex clothing in order to become sexually aroused – they have no desire to change their sexual identity. Below is a link to a website that discusses the most common myths in detail. It is very useful and insightful.

What can you do if this is you?

Although having any disorder is very difficult, mostly because of societal expectations of what ‘normal’ behavior is this is one where you can embrace your true self. With the proper help an individual can become the person they feel there are inside, not the person they are on the outside. You can shine! Below is a link that will inspire, and furthermore show how society is slowly but surely accepting transsexuals (gender identity disorder).

Transgender 'Top Model' Contestant - Tyra (Part 1)


Castillo, M. (May 10, 2012). Tom Gabel announces he's transgender: What is gender dysphoria?. Retrieved from: Tom Gabel announces he's transgender: What is gender dysphoria?

Gender Dysphoria (December 2012). Gender Identity Disorder Retrieved from:

Gnetluvsgreg (2008, June 27). 7yr. old girl Jazz ~ thoughts on being a Transgender Child [Video file]. Retrieved from http:

King, B. (2012). Human Sexuality Today. (7th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.

Nolen-Hoeksema, S., (2014). Abnormal Psychology. 6th ed. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill Education

‪Megami284 (2008, November 17) Transgender 'Top Model' Contestant - Tyra (Part 1) Retrieved from:

Reference for all Images

Gender Identity Disorder. Retrieved September 12, 2014, from:

Gender Dysphoria. Retrieved September 13, 2014 from: