When You Don't Feel At Home With Your Gender
Symptoms & Diagnosis
To be diagnosed with gender dysphoria, a person has to have symptoms that last for at least six months.
In children, these symptoms may include:
- Consistently saying they are really a girl even though they have the physical traits of a boy or really a boy if they have the physical traits of a girl
- Strongly preferring friends of the sex with which they identify
- Rejecting the clothes, toys, and games typical for boys or girls
- Refusing to urinate in the way -- standing or sitting -- that other boys or girls typically do
- Saying they want to get rid of their genitals and have the genitals of their true sex
- Believing that even though they have the physical traits of a girl they will grow up to be a man; or believing if they have the physical traits of a boy they will still be a woman when they grow up
- Having extreme distress about the body changes that happen during puberty
In teens and adults, symptoms may include:
- Certainty that their true gender is not aligned with their body.
- Disgust with their genitals. They may avoid showering, changing clothes, or having sex in order to avoid seeing or touching their genitals.
- Strong desire to be rid of their genitals and other sex traits.
Children or adults might dress and otherwise present themselves like the sex they feel they are.
Undiagnosed or Untreated Gender Dysphoria
Diagnosis and treatment are important. People with gender dysphoria have higher rates of mental health conditions. Some estimates say that 71% of people with gender dysphoria will have some other mental health diagnosis in their lifetime. That includes mood disorders, anxiety disorders, schizophrenia, depression, substance abuse, eating disorders, and suicide attempts.
The goal is not to change how the person feels about his or her gender. Instead, the goal is to deal with the distress that may come with those feelings.
Talking with a psychologist or psychiatrist is part of any treatment for gender dysphoria. "Talk" therapy is one way to address the mental health issues that this condition can cause.