Gender Dysphoria is a condition where a person feels conflicted about his gender identity and his assigned gender. Because of this, he might feel uncomfortable with his own body. Those affected with this may have trouble or difficulty with their feelings and thoughts and their assigned gender.
People may cross-dress, undergo sex-change surgery or hormone treatment, or change pronouns to affirm their gender identity. They may also change their names that would confirm their gender. Children with gender dysphoria may do the same too.
This is not sexuality or gender nonconformity. The latter is when their behavior doesn’t conform to the gender norms or stereotypes. An example of this would be how a boy would wear clothing that society would expect in girls.
Although there might be children who have gender dysphoria, a lot won’t feel this until they reach puberty. This makes it difficult to identify with their own body to the point that they feel uncomfortable in wearing swimwear or even do self-harming.
The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) set a criterion for diagnosing people with gender dysphoria.
Adults and adolescents are diagnosed with gender dysphoria if they show at least two of the following criteria:
- A conflict between their expressed gender and their sex characteristics
- Discomfort in their sex characteristics
- Wanting another gender’s sex characteristics
- Wanting to be of another gender
- Wanting to be treated like another gender
- A certainty that they feel like the other gender
If a child shows at least six of the following for at least six months, they are diagnosed with gender dysphoria.
- Want to be the opposite gender
- Wearing clothes that the other gender usually wears
- Play involving cross-gender roles
- A desire for toys stereotyped for the other gender
- Want their playmates to be of the other gender
- Dislike of their sexual characteristics
- Wanting the sex characteristics of their identified gender
Children may show these signs at 2 to 4 years old. If they are atypical to gender behavior, it’s normal. Those who are insistent of their gender by saying “I want to be a boy or girl” were more likely shown to be transgendered in their adulthood.
Treatment – Psychiatry
Gender dysphoria can be treated by counseling, hormone treatment, puberty suppression, and gender surgery. Some adults may not want to go under the latter though. Others may undergo surgery or hormone treatment too.
Going to therapy can help the person express their feelings about their gender conflict better. It can also help build a supportive environment especially if the family joins the counseling.
Treating a child has to involve multiple professionals like mental health specialist, pediatrician, and many more. This would help give emotional and psychological support to the child.
A lot of people still discriminate and stigmatize others with gender dysphoria and those who identify with a gender dissimilar with their physical attributes. Transgender people are also targeted with hate crimes and discrimination by another, like difficulty in accessing health care services.
It can also affect relationships, especially with classmates as they might be bullied for not wearing clothes appropriate of their assigned gender. These children are also at risk of developing problems like depression.