Important and Helpful Information

What is Gender Dysphoria?

Gender Dysphoria is a medical term and diagnosis used to describe individuals who feel or believe there is a discrepancy between their gender identity and their biological gender, and is previously known as Gender Identity Disorder (Nolen-Hoeksema, 2011). In other words, if you were born biologically a male and have always felt or believed you were a female, or were born biologically a female and have always felt or believed you were a male, you might be suffering from Gender Dysphoria.

According to the National Health Service, United Kingdom (n.d.) the discomfort or distress one feels when there is a mismatch between the biological sex assigned at birth and the gender they identify with can be very complex and difficult to understand.

What Are the Primary Symptoms of Gender Dysphoria?

According to WebMD (2014) some of the most common symptoms experienced by those suffering from Gender Dysphoria are:

-A desire to live as a person of the opposite sex.
-The 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.

Not conforming to societal norms of one's biological gender is not necessarily a disorder; one must feel a great deal of distress and/or discomfort with their assigned biological gender before a diagnosis of Gender Dysphoria is made (WebMD, 2014).

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What Are Some of the Causes of Gender Dysphoria?

Biological theories of the origins of Gender Dysphoria include prenatal exposure to unusual levels of female or male hormones involved in the development of brain structures associated with gender identity and sexual orientation, and, family and twin studies indicate that up to 62% "of the variation in vulnerability to" Gender Dysphoria " is due to genetic causes" (Nolen-Hoeksema, 2011, p. 418).

There are psychological theories of how Gender Dysphoria develop that focus on family dynamics, or how parents might shape their children's gender identity through behavior reinforcement, but the evidence supporting these theories is weak (Nolen-Hoeksema, 2011).

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What Are Some Common Myths & Misperceptions About Gender Dysphoria?

A common misperception is that someone who likes to cross-dress must have Gender Dysphoria when, in fact, it is not the same at all as Gender Dysphoria has nothing to do with sexual orientation (National Health Service, n.d.).

Another common misperception about Gender Dysphoria is that it means an individual is homosexual when, in fact, people with the disorder may identify as heterosexual, homosexual, bisexual or asexual (NHS, U.K., n.d.).

Also, as noted by Nolen-Hoeksema (2011) the term 'Gender Identity Disorder' (as Gender Dysphoria was previously known) was found to be stigmatizing in a survey of transgendered individuals, so has been rejected and replaced with the newer and non-stigmatizing term.

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Getting Help

According to the NHS, U.K. (n.d.) there are many different options available to you such as living and dressing as your preferred gender; or, taking hormones or even having treatment or surgery to change your body permanently. It's been found that the vast majority of those that have undergone treatment to permanently change their bodies are very satisfied with the eventual results (NHS, U.K., n.d.). Here is one woman's story:

We Are Here to Help

Your physicians are here to help and are available to discuss your feelings, symptoms and treatment options and to provide referrals and other support you may need or want. There is no need to suffer in silence if you are experiencing discomfort or distress based on your feelings of your assigned biology being mismatched to who you are.
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National Health Service Choices, United Kingdom. (n.d.). Gender Dysphoria. Retrieved


Nolen-Hoeksema, S. (2011). Abnormal psychology (6th ed.). New York: McGraw-Hill.

WebMD. (2014, August 21). Gender Dysphoria. WebMD Medical Reference. Retrieved from