A person is said to have gender dysphoria when he strongly feels that his gender is not matching his biological sexual characteristics. For example a person having all male biological characteristics feels that in actuality he is a female. There is strong desire for him to be female and others accept him as a female. The same way a female may have strong desire to be identified as a male. This medical condition is also referred as gender identity disorder or gender incongruence. The mismatch sexual anatomy and gender identity can cause lot of distress and anxiety in daily life of a person suffering from gender dysphoria.
Dysphoria literally means feeling dissatisfied and anxious. The first sign of gender dysphoria appears in childhood when the boy dislikes to wear clothes meant for boys or and similarly a girl like to wear boys clothes. This behavior persists even when the boy or girl becomes adult. The exact cause is not known but hormones are believed to play a role besides genes and environmental factors. Treatment consists of psychological counseling. Some people may prefer to change their appearance to match their desired gender with surgery.
Potential Causes Of Gender Dysphoria
Gender dysphoria is a rare medical illness.Since there are many people who do not seek treatment for gender dysphoria, the exact number of people having this problem is difficult to know. The exact cause of gender dysphoria is not known. Researchers believe genetics as well as hormonal factors during the fetal stage may have a mark on the child with gender identity. The hormones that play a role in development of biological sex and gender in mother’s womb may not be functioning as they should. This may lead to gender dysphasia.
Sometimes the environment in which the child is raised can also influence gender dysphoria. Although there is no concrete proof that exposure of fetus to progesterone or estrogen containing drugs during pregnancy can increase the risk, some people suspect its role in development of gender dysphoria. Certain rare congenital disorders such as aderenal hyperplasia can also cause gender dysphoria. In adrenal hyperplasia the adrenal glands produce too much of male hormone. This may lead to larger size female gentials.
Symptoms Of Gender Dysphoria
A person is said to have gender dysphoria when the symptoms exhibited by him must be more than six months. It is not a simple desire, but the concerned person has strong and persistent intent for opposite gender identity. Here are following symptoms:
- The boy child repeatedly desires or insists that he is not a boy but a girl although he has all physical traits of a boy. In the same way the girl insists that she is a boy.
- Always like to remain in company with opposite gender.
- Boy insists on wearing clothes of girls while the girl always likes to wear clothes usually worn by boys.
- Desires and tends to play games and other activities of the other sex.
- Urinates in the way opposite gender does. For example the girl may stand and urinate just as boys do. Or the boy sits and urinates as girls do.
- Desires to get rid of genitals and replace them with genitals of their desired biological sex. They have strong dislike of their sexual anatomy.
- A boy will believe he will grow up as an adult girl or a girl believes that she will grow up as an adult man.
How To Deal With Gender Identity Disorder?
Most people suffering from gender dysphoria also have some accompanied mental illness such as mood disorder, schizophrenia, depression, substance abuse etc. The treatment is aimed not to change the persons feeling, but the discomfort and trouble that is accompanied with the feeling. Counseling the child or an adolescent by a psychologist or psychiatrist is beneficial. Talk therapy is effective in dealing with this condition.
With talk therapy many people change the way they think and behave. For example they may change the way they dress. For example the boy may start wearing boy’s clothes instead of girl. Some people may resort to hormone medication and choose sex change surgery.