What is gender dysphoria in adults?

Katy Kandaris-Weiner, LPC

With at least 68 terms for gender identity and expression existing in the world, it is clear that gender is not binary. Not every person whose gender differs from what they were assigned at birth experiences gender dysphoria. However, many adults deal with this disorder at some point in time. It can negatively impact their lives, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

What is gender dysphoria?

According to Mayo Clinic, gender dysphoria is an uncomfortable feeling that is experienced by those who identify with a gender that differs from their birth sex. It is common for transgender and gender-diverse individuals to go through this. As Psychology Today explains, these feelings need to cause serious levels of distress and pain to be diagnosed.

There are many unique avenues for people to explore as they navigate their own gender identity. Some people can figure out their identity right away, while it may take others some time. It is only natural for many of them to experience gender dysphoria.

Gender dysphoria does not discriminate. It exists in countries and cultures all over the world. People of all ages, from children to adults, can be overcome by these intense feelings.

Let’s be clear here that identifying with a different gender than what is assigned at birth is not a disorder. Gender dysphoria is its own beast that many people have to face as they navigate their identities. When ignored, these feelings can impact many areas of life and lead people down the wrong roads.  

What are the negative impacts of gender dysphoria?

No good comes from encouraging people to stay quiet about who they are. Instead, transgender and gender-diverse individuals should be free to explore their identities. One step in this direction is being open to discussions surrounding gender dysphoria. It is vital that all people understand what gender dysphoria is and the negative impacts it often has on those affected by it.

Those who experience this disorder tend to face unique challenges. Many studies exploring gender dysphoria have taken place over the years. One study found that there may be a correlation between trauma and gender dysphoria. In this study, 56% of participants faced four or more traumatic forms of early trauma, and 46% showed signs of disorganized attachment.

According to Psychology Today, those with gender dysphoria often experience substance-related disorders, suicidal ideation, and suicide attempts more often than others. Gender dysphoria and other disorders, like depression and anxiety, can occur at the same time. Up to 50% of those with gender dysphoria attempt suicide, and over 26% abuse substances.

A big reason for these high numbers comes from a lack of understanding. Gender dysphoria is not as accepted as it should be, which can lead these individuals to go through life without treatment.

It is no secret that people thrive in supportive environments where they have access to proper care and are allowed to be themselves. This is what those dealing with gender dysphoria deserve.

Here at Inner Balance, our knowledgeable counselors strive to provide LGBTQIA+ individuals with the services they need. We understand the importance of learning about these topics so we can be fully prepared to help patients deal with them. If you or someone you know needs help navigating gender dysphoria, do not be afraid to reach out.

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Katy Kandaris-Weiner, LPC

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