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Help With Gender Dysphoria

Curated and updated for the community by APA

Gender dysphoria involves a conflict between a person's physical or assigned gender and the gender with which he/she/they identify. People with gender dysphoria may be very uncomfortable with the gender they were assigned, sometimes described as being uncomfortable with their body (particularly developments during puberty) or being uncomfortable with the expected roles of their assigned gender.

People with gender dysphoria may often experience significant distress and/or problems functioning associated with this conflict between the way they feel and think of themselves (referred to as experienced or expressed gender) and their physical or assigned gender.

The gender conflict affects people in different ways. It can change the way a person wants to express their gender and can influence behavior, dress and self-image. Some people may cross-dress, some may want to socially transition, others may want to medically transition with sex-change surgery and/or hormone treatment. Socially transitioning primarily involves transitioning into the affirmed gender’s pronouns and bathrooms.

See more on symptoms, & treatment

  • Dec 11, 2019
The ‘Q’ in LGBTQ: Queer/Questioning

Most people are familiar with the term LGBT—lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender. The acronym increasingly includes the letter Q, LGBTQ, referring to queer and/or questioning individuals. The terms queer and questioning are important because they encompass a larger number of individuals who identify as having same-sex attraction and behaviors.

  • Nov 30, 2017
Direct-to-Consumer Advertising Linked to Changes in Medication Use Among People with Serious Mental Illness

People with serious mental illness exposed to direct-to-consumer advertising (DTCA) of medications are more likely to stop taking their medications than those not exposed to the advertising, according to new research published in Psychiatric Services in Advance.

  • Nov 15, 2017
Effective Messages to Fight Stigma

Despite increasing public awareness and discussion about mental illness and substance use disorders, stigma is still a major barrier to many people seeking treatment. New research has identified communication strategies that are effective in reducing stigma and increasing public support for policies and programs benefitting people with behavioral health conditions.

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What is the difference between transgender and transsexual?

Transgender is a non-medical term that has been used increasingly since the 1990s as an umbrella term describing individuals whose gender identity (inner sense of gender) or gender expression (outward performance of gender) differs from the sex or gender to which they were assigned at birth. Some people who use this term do not consider themselves as matching a binary gender category. In addition, new terms such as genderqueer, bigendered, and agendered are increasingly in use.

Transsexual is a historic, medical term that refers to individuals who have undergone some form of medical and/or surgical treatment for gender reassignment (historically referred to as sex reassignment). Some transsexual individuals may identify as transgender, although others primarily identify as the male or female gender to which they have transitioned.

People who identify as transgender but who do not seek medical or surgical treatment are not transsexual.

Is there a general age that people realize they are transgender or experience gender dysphoria? Can it happen late in life?

Not all transgender people suffer from gender dysphoria and that distinction is important to keep in mind. Gender dysphoria and/or coming out as transgender can occur at any age.

The DSM-5 distinguishes between Gender Dysphoria in Childhood for those who experience GD before puberty. The diagnosis of Gender Dysphoria in Adolescents and Adults can occur at any age. For those who experience gender dysphoria later in life, they often report having secretly hidden their gender dysphoric feelings from others when they were younger.

About the Experts:

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Jack Drescher, M.D.
Clinical Professor of Psychiatry, New York Medical College
Adjunct Professor, New York University

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Jack Pula, M.D.
Psychiatrist in private practice in New York City

Transgender Non-Conforming Youth: One Experience of Many

My fourth child is a transgender boy, and I love him. At 2 he climbed up on the kitchen counter when his dad and I were doing the dishes.

He refused to toilet train until we bought him boxers. Desperate for him to toilet train so he could start preschool at 3, we did. We were dismayed to see him freeze when he was asked to use pink scissors or line up with the girls in PE, and mortified to overhear other parents ask each other, “What kind of parents would name a boy Samantha?”.

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JUNE 30, 2020

Nonbinary Photographer Documents Gender Dysphoria Through A Queer Lens
NPR

Inspired by their own journey as a nonbinary person, Salgu Wissmath, a photographer from Sacramento, California, decided to document feelings of gender dysphoria. It's a term for the anguish and distress a person experiences as a result of a disconnect between their gender identity — who they feel they are — and the gender a doctor assigned them at birth.  

JUNE 23, 2020
C
aitlyn Jenner: ‘I See My Gender Dysphoria As a Gift’

Women's Health Magazine

"I channeled my struggles to drive and push me. It wasn’t until I was 63 years old looking back and realizing I was dealing with the same issues I had when I was 9 that I wondered, “What am I going to do with my life?” I finally got the guts to tell my story. But now, I wake up in the morning, and I look in the mirror, and everything finally feels like it’s in the right place. I’m not struggling anymore. I’m happy." 

JUNE 12, 2020

Trump administration revokes transgender health protection
CNBC

The policy shift, long-sought by the president’s religious and socially conservative supporters, defines gender as a person’s biological sex. LGBTQ groups say explicit protections are needed for people seeking sex-reassignment treatment, and even for transgender people who need medical care for common conditions such as diabetes or heart problems.