Gender Dysphoria

Discovering the Inner You

What is Gender Dysphoria?

Gender dysphoria is a discrepancy between individuals gender identity (sense of themselves as male or female) and their biological sex (Nolen-Hoeksema, 2014).

Gender dysphoria in children is a rare condition in which a child persistently rejects his or her anatomic sex and insists he or she is a member of the opposite sex (Nolen-Hoeksema, 2014).

The Primary Symptoms

Symptoms in Children Include;

-Insisting that they are the opposite sex

-Disliking or refusing to wear clothes that are typically worn by their sex and wanting to wear the opposite

-Preferring to play with children of the opposite biological sex

-Disliking or refusing to pass urine as members of their biological sex usually do

-Insisting or hoping that their genitals will change

-Feeling extreme distress at the physical changes of puberty

Children with gender dysphoria may display some or all of these behaviors. Many of the behaviors are just apart of childhood and doesn't mean that the child has gender dysphoria (NHS, 2014).

Symptoms in Teens & Adults:

-Without doubt that your gender identity is at odds with biological sex

-Comfortable only when in the gender role of preferred gender identity

-Strong desire to hide or rid of the physical signs of your sex, such as breasts, body hair, etc.

-Strong dislike for and strong desire to change or rid of the genitalia of your biological sex

If the feelings of gender dysphoria are still present by the time a child becomes a teenager or adulthood, it is not a phase (NHS, 2014).

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Treatment Options Available

-Cross -sex hormone therapy; stimulates the development of secondary sex characteristics of the preferred sex and suppresses secondary sex characteristics of the birth sex.

-Full-time real-life experience in the desired gender role; before undergoing sex reassignment surgery, individuals spend a year or more living full time in the gender role they seek.

-Sex reassignment surgery: requires a series of surgeries and hormone treatments, often over a period of 2 or more years.

In children and adolescents, treatment primarily focuses on psychotherapy to help clairify their gender identity and deal with interpersonal and psychological issues created by that identity. Hormone therapy and surgeries are unacceptable for children because they cannot give full consent (Nolen-Hoeksema, 2014).

Common Myths Related to Gender Dysphoria

1. We know what causes transgenderism or transexualism

- The exact causes are currently unknown.

2. People choose to be transgendered or transsexual

- Transgenderism and transsexualism is not a choice or not caused by lack of male or female role models.

3. All trans-identified individuals want to change their birth sex

-Not all transgendered people want to change their sex.

4. It's just a phase

- Like sexual orientation, a persons gender identity is deeply personal and should not be considered an "experiment" or a "phase".

5. All children who exhibit cross-gender behaviors are transsexuals

-80-95% of prepubertal children who exhibit cross gender symptoms will no longer exhibit gender identity symptoms in adolescence.

Additional Information/Supports

MD Junction - Gender-Identity Disorder Support Group

Support and Information for Family Members

Chat Room for Gender Identity Support


Nolen-Hoeksema, S. (2014). (ab)normal psychology (6th ed.). New York, NY: McGraw Hill.

Gender Dysphoria - Symptoms (2014, April 29). In NHS. Retrieved August 4, 2014, from

Six Common Misconceptions About Gender Identity (n.d.). In Alberta Teachers Association. Retrieved August 4, 2014, from