What is gender dysphoria?
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.
What are the symptoms?
Feeling that your body does not match your identity can lead to psychological discomfort and distress. Transgender people may feel isolated and not accepted at school, in their community and by their own family. They may find it difficult to access healthcare in a non-judgmental environment. Anxiety, depression, self-harm, abuse and neglect, substance abuse, personality disorders, and eating disorders are common concerns for transgender people.
What are common misconceptions about gender dysphoria?
Gender dysphoria used to be called “gender identity disorder,” but with increased education, that term has become outdated.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Another outdated term, and a term that can be considered offensive, is “transsexual.”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.
How is gender dysphoria diagnosed?
Gender dysphoria may present in adolescence or later in adult life. It is not a medical or psychological disorder to be diagnosed and cured. Rather, it is a spectrum of feelings that must be recognized, and appropriate supportive care should be provided by medical professionals with proficiency in treating transgender patients.
What are the treatment options?
Treatment is designed to help align one’s physical appearance with their gender identity. It can include gender affirming hormone therapy and gender confirming surgery. Treatment is individualized to each patient’s needs, and not all patients make the same treatment choices. Psychological care to address concurrent mental health concerns is an essential component of the treatment plan. Transgender people may start by changing the way they dress or begin going by a different name prior to pursuing more permanent options.
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.