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The Men's Health Center
People who have gender dysphoria strongly believe that their gender does not match the sex they were assigned at birth. For example, someone who has male genitalia and other physical traits of a male feel inside that their true identity is female, or vice versa. They feel an intense desire to present as, and to be accepted by, others as the gender they identify with, rather than the gender they were assigned at birth.
Feeling that your body does not match your identity can cause severe mental health struggles, like anxiety and depression. The discomfort with your body can result in problems in your life, such as academics, professional pursuits, and your social life.
Gender dysphoria used to be called “gender identity disorder,” but with increased education, that term has become outdated. The mismatch between body and sense of identity should not be considered a disorder or a mental illness. The mental health aspect lies with the anxiety, depression and distress that go with gender dysphoria.
Another outdated term, and a term that can be considered offensive, is “transsexual.” Transgender is the term used to describe someone whose body and identity do not match. "Gender nonconforming" is a broad term that includes people with gender dysphoria and those who feel that they are not only female or only male in identity. They may present themselves as genderless or as a different gender than they were assigned at birth. People who identify as both genders or neither are also called “genderqueer.”
Your gender identity has nothing to do with your sexual orientation. Your internal sense of gender is not the same as your sexual orientation.
To be clinically diagnosed with gender dysphoria, a person must have symptoms for at least 6 months. People with this condition have higher rates of mental health conditions, often including mood disorders, anxiety, and depression, and sometimes schizophrenia, eating disorders or substance abuse problems.
Treatment for gender dysphoria is not to change how a person feels about their identity, but rather to help address some of the mental health struggles that come along with these feelings. Talk therapy is part of any treatment. Further treatments may include some steps to align their physical appearance with how they feel inside. People may change the way they dress or begin going by a different name, or choose more permanent options like hormone therapy or surgery. Talk therapy is always an important part of treatment that should continue before, during and after any medical treatments.
We offer a wide range of hormone therapy options. For younger children, patients and their families might choose to begin hormone therapy to simply delay puberty, so that the body does not change in ways that you don’t want. For older teens and adults, gender hormones such as estradiol and testosterone can assist with the medical transition from male to female, or female to male.