When the gender assigned at birth does not match the self-image and experiences psychological distress, this is known as gender dysphoria. It’s easy to confuse this term with transgenderism, but the two are not interchangeable. Gender dysphoria can cause significant distress and affect one’s quality of life.
Gender dysphoria causes people to experience intense feelings of discomfort about their gender identity—and for some, this manifests as a desire to transition from male to female or vice versa. Gender dysphoria is not a mental illness, but it can be treated with therapy and medication. It’s also possible for people with gender dysphoria to live their lives without transitioning.
Distress from gender inequality generally stems from fear of stigma and social rejection. Many people who are not associated with the gender they were assigned at birth feel the need to hide who they are and “carry away” their false identity. You can become discouraged and depressed. If left untreated or suppressed, it may increase the risk of self-harm or suicide.
Although psychologists treat gender dysphoria as a mental illness, it is important to emphasize that this depression likely stems from feeling unaccepted. No. Likewise, being transgender is not a mental illness.
How do people get help for gender dysphoria? Treatment is not aimed at correcting one’s gender identity to match the assigned gender. Instead, the therapist will help you reduce or manage your distress, accept your true identity, and, if you choose, change to conform to your gender identity. In addition to therapy, seeking peer support and group therapy can also help. Some people choose to physically transition by taking hormones or having gender reassignment surgery. However, not all transgender people want this type of treatment. It’s a personal choice. For those making the transition, it’s a process that can involve years of personal growth, and everyone does it a little differently. For example;
- change name or pronoun
- Updating gender characteristics on ID cards and other government documents
- Receiving treatment such as hormone therapy that transcends gender
- Undergo gender reassignment surgery
While it is important to remember that being transgender is not a disease per se, many transgender people face physical and mental health problems due to widespread discrimination and stigma. Many trans people live in societies that tell them that their deeply held identities are wrong or deviant. Some have lost their homes, support, and even harassment and violence. This type of experience is difficult for everyone and can lead to anxiety disorders, depression and other mental illnesses for some. However, these conditions are not caused by transgender identities: they’re a result of the intolerance many transgender people have to deal with. Many transgender people – especially transgender people who are accepted and valued in their communities – are able to live healthy and fulfilling lives.
To ensure that transgender people live healthy, safe and fulfilling lives, it is important that they live without fear of discrimination or violence and that they are supported and recognized for who they are. Significant changes in laws, policies and attitudes across the country in recent years have enabled more transgender people to live fuller, safer and healthier lives than ever before.