Not feeling ‘at home’ with your gender is known as gender dysphoria. It is a sense of distress and discomfort with your physical sexual characteristics. The victim is unable to align their orientation with their body which creates internal conflicts and mental agitation. A national survey in 2022 found that 1.4 million individuals (0.6%) in the US are transgender. Another sex health study published in 2017 found that there is a high prevalence ranging from 0.5% to 1.3% for self-reported transgender identity in adults and adolescents.
They are people whose gender identity is different from the gender assigned at birth. It means their innate knowledge of who they are do not match what was expected when they were born. This makes it tough to ‘fit it’ and many avoid talking about it out of fear, shame, and confusion. They also risk harassment, discrimination, and strong judgment. While there is no easy fix, here’s what you can do to soothe dysphoria.
Gender Issues: Here’s What it Looks Like
Gender variant people can believe themselves to be of the opposite sex, neither of the sexes or anything ‘in between’ or fluid. The good news is that Gender Identity Therapy navigates the difficult waters and helps figure out your unique path without medical intervention since transgenders are now developing a multitude of identities.
This is necessary because the uneasiness may be at its peak during moments when you are alone and face your physical reality, for instance, while taking a shower. It is termed a ‘sexual dysfunction’ or a disease (gender identity disorder) that may be the cause of depression or anxiety. There is a strong mental and physical disconnection that also leads to repeated or a few suicidal attempts.
The main symptoms of dysphoria are a desire to be treated as the opposite gender, a preference for cross-sex roles, wearing clothes associated with the other gender, and rejecting games or toys typical of the birth-assigned gender. Studies estimate that 7 out of 10 people with gender dysphoria are likely to have some type of mental health diagnosis in their lifetime. The serious ones are substance abuse disorder, schizophrenia, and eating disorders. This is when talk therapy with a psychologist can be quite relieving.
How Does a Gender Specialist Help?
A professional affirmative counselor will not try to ‘talk you out of it.’ They tend to respect all choices and you feel safe and helped. Do not have to squeeze yourself into a male/female two-gender binary system. Work with a therapist who is familiar with the transgender community and works in sync with World Professional Association for Transgender Health (WPATH) ethical guidelines. You can also receive help in case you wish to ‘de-transition’. It is a process in which people who have already medically or socially transitioned from one gender to another decide to reverse the process. Any client walking in will receive the help required to move forward in their journey.
Living in a truly authentic way can be a life-saving and life-affirming decision and is non-damaging to one’s mental and emotional health. Asking for help will let you give a name to your experience and feel at ease in sharing it with others.