Gender has become one of the most sensitive and important topics of discussion amongst many feminist scholars in the contemporary world. Though our society recognizes binary genders as natural and they are the only genders accepted by society. If any person is seen to be engaged in some activity that is not assigned to their gender, it is seen as deviance from normal culture. People start calling it some kind of medical problem and start consulting some physicians.
Now, what is Gender Dysphoria? Is it a medical issue? How do people perceive it? Is it the same thing as that of being a transsexual? Let us dwell on such questions.
What is Gender Dysphoria?
What would happen if a person is asked to wear the left shoe in the right leg and the right shoe in the left leg? One would feel uncomfortable. Gender Dysphoria is in a way is the same feeling.
Gender Dysphoria (GD) is defined as a condition in which a person has marked incongruence between the expressed or experienced gender and the biological sex at birth. This causes a great deal of distress and anxiety to the person. They are not comfortable living with their assigned gender. They are constantly in a state of stress and desire to change their primary or secondary sexual organs. They might not feel comfortable performing the gender they are assigned. They wish to act as the alternative gender as that of theirs.
What does it mean to be transgender and transsexual?
Transgender is an umbrella term that associates itself with a lot of meanings. The meaning varies with person to person. Being a trans-gender generally means to not perform the gender one is assigned to.
Whereas, trans-sexual is a term that many people find offensive to use. Being a transsexual person is to not feel comfortable with one’s anatomical structure. In many cases, people do not like their sexual organs and prefer to change it through surgeries or taking pills and treatment for hormones.
Are Gender Dysphoria and Trans-sexuality the same?
Most of the time, people, in commonsensical knowledge refer to Gender Dysphoria as Trans-sexuality, although they are not the same.
Gender Dysphoria, in general, does not describe the person’s desires to be abnormal. It is the stress and anxiety the person takes responsibility for Gender Dysphoria.
Trans-sexuality is not a medical condition as Gender Dysphoria is. It is a simple state of a person to not believe in the roles and sexual organs they are assigned to.
Symptoms of Gender Dysphoria
According to the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), symptoms of Gender Dysphoria in adolescents include:
- There is a marked incongruence between one’s experienced/expressed gender and primary and/or secondary sex characteristics
- There is a strong desire to get rid of one’s sexual organs
- There is a strong desire for the primary and/or secondary sex characteristics of the other gender
- There is a strong desire to be of the alternative gender
- The person would want to be treated as another gender
- There is a strong conviction that one has the typical feelings and reactions of the other gender
In children, Gender Dysphoria symptoms involve the following out of which the disease is diagnosed if at least six of them are identified:
- The child might want to be recognized as the alternative gender as of theirs
- Children might prefer to wear clothes typical of the opposite gender
- There might be a strong preference for cross-gender roles in make-believe play or fantasy play
- The child might have a strong preference for the toys, games or activities stereotypically used or engaged in by the other gender
- They might prefer for playmates of the other gender
- There is a strong rejection of toys, games, and activities typical of one’s assigned gender
- They might dislike their human anatomy
- There is a strong desire for the physical sex characteristics that match one’s experienced gender
Since the problem is not why a person wants to change their gender, hence the goal is not to change that feeling. The problem lies in the anxiety and distress which is caused by that feeling.
One of the solutions is to talk to a psychiatrist. Sometimes mere appointment and talking with the doctor works, but sometimes the anxiety is so severe that the person might want to get rid of their physical appearance. In that case, they might crossdress or take medicines to control their hormones in the way they want to.
- Puberty blockers: Young people might start taking pills that work on hormones. But one needs to understand that for doing so, they must consult a paediatrician and sometimes a psychiatrist about the pros and cons of taking these hormones, especially at a young age.
- Hormones: Teens or adults might start taking the hormones estrogen or testosterone to develop traits of the sex that they identify with.
- Surgery: Sometimes people are so distressed with their anatomical sex and sexual characteristics that they might have a sex change operation where they change their primary and/or secondary sexual organs.
Taboos and Myths attached
Though gender is not binary people in our society have made their belief so. If a person does not fit into the characteristics of a male or a female scale, they are looked down upon.
In the case of gender Dysphoria, as said above is not the state of being a transsexual. But it is seen so. There was a time when the name of Gender Dysphoria was Gender Identity Disorder. But because it is not a disorder of identity, but that of anxiety, the name was changed.
Gender Dysphoria is not even a state of non-conformity, which refers to not to match with stereotypical characteristics one’s gender assigned to them at the time of their birth by society. For example, a girl might want to dress up in trousers and t-shirts.
Gender Dysphoria is not even that of being a gay or a lesbian. Gays and lesbians are people who are naturally attracted to people of their same genders.
There is no specific age at which Gender Dysphoria is seen to occur. It can happen at any age to anybody. If the dislike toward one’s body is more than four months, that person can be said that they have Gender Dysphoria.
It is an alarming situation for all of the orthodox minded people in society. People generally cannot accept the fact that their children are not what they wanted them to be. What is needed to understand is that if one is not feeling comfortable with their assigned gender, it is completely natural and we should support them to get rid of the anxiety attached?
Nowadays many people are seen to come in limelight and change their sex to lead a comfortable life. We need to build up a society that is for each person living on the earth. Let us not make others feel less in any way than anyone.
Kaltiala-Heino, Bergman, Tyolajarvi, and Frisen. “Gender Dysphoria in adolescence: current perspectives.” https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5841333/ (accessed August 12, 2020).
American Psychiatric Association. “What Is Gender Dysphoria.” https://www.psychiatry.org/patients-families/ (accessed August 12, 2020).
WebMD. “When You Don’t Feel at Home with Your Gender.” https://www.webmd.com (accessed August 12, 2020)