When there’s a mismatch between the gender assigned at birth and the experiences of gender, gender dysphoria can happen. The body parts may indicate that a person is male or female even when doing gender testing, but there is a strong feeling of being the opposite. In general, gender dysphoria refers to a sense of discontent or unhappiness with the biological gender and the gender roles expected to conform to in a society.
How Is Gender Dysphoria Diagnosed?
Typically, health care providers diagnose gender dysphoria either based on:
- Behavioral health evaluation. The provider will evaluate to confirm the presence of gender dysphoria and document how prejudice and discrimination due to gender identity (minority stress factors) impact mental health. The provider will also ask about the degree of support a person has from family, chosen family, and peers.
- DSM-5. The mental health professional may use the criteria for gender dysphoria listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), published by the American Psychiatric Association.
However, the diagnosis of gender dysphoria is different according to age, which is more conservative in children. In other terms, at least 6 of these criteria should be met and should always include the first one on the list:
- Strong desire to have a different gender
- Preference to wear the other gender’s attire
- Strong preference for another gender in role-playing
- Strong preference for games and toys of the other gender
- Rejection of toys and games stereotypically assigned to their gender
- Strong preference for friends and playmates of the opposite gender
- Dislike of their own genitals
- Strong desire for the sexual characteristics of their experienced gender
What Are The Treatment Goals For Gender Dysphoria?
Gender dysphoria treatment has different goals and outcomes that can be unexpected. Usually, the treatment goals for gender dysphoria have to do with coming to terms with gender. Below is the brief list of some goals that might work towards the gender dysphoria’s psychological treatment, which includes:
- Explore The Gender Identity– The person doesn’t know what gender identity is and might have had conflicting feelings or experiences related to gender. Through therapy, the person will be given the freedom to question the assigned gender without any requirement to change or not change the gender identity, which means exploring what it means to be male or female.
- Accept Themselves As The Gender They Feel Inside– With society pushing to behave to the assigned gender, acceptance of oneself might be difficult regarding who you are inside since criticisms and a feeling of failure constantly come in when you do not conform to others’ wants. Before dealing with their disapproval, the therapy will focus on learning to love yourself like your gender and helping you come to terms with the mismatch. It can also boost self-esteem.
- Deal With Family And Society’s Expectations. It could come as a shock and disheartening when those around you expect you to behave differently. When gender hasn’t been expressed yet, it could be upsetting that others expect you to act differently. The goal is to help you learn to deal with their disapproval, giving you more confidence in being who you are and what you choose.
- Learn How To Handle Bullying – Transgender people are often the targets of bullies. It has been a shared experience to be hurt physically or emotionally by so many people who have not opened their minds about gender differences. Having the knowledge to deal with situations where you’re being bullied can make your life easier and less distressing.
- Express The Dysphoric Feelings In A safe, Non-Judgmental Environment– The therapy supports you as this aspect is often critical because many are facing disapproval from society, so having a place to express themselves freely can be invaluable.
- Explore Options For Expressing And Living The Gender Identity– Another goal to hit is to provide information and educational materials on ways you might choose to approach gender incongruence. Topics are also given, such as living as the other gender, getting gender reassignment surgery, and each option’s psychological challenges. That said, they can also support you as you talk through your reactions to these solutions.
- Manage The Coming Out Process– When the person already decides to let others know the gender preference, fear of what might come next. Indeed, facing numerous challenges during this crucial period is inevitable, but the help of counselors allows you to express yourself and deal with your fears. During this time, they will give insights and support about what to expect.
- Help With Living According To The True Gender Identity– In case of any gender reassignment treatment, spending some time living as the other gender has to be dealt with first before making the transition. And even if there is no intention to make a medical transition, a decision might congruently lead to living according to your gender identity. Subsequently, this involves many practical dilemmas and adjusting to societal attitudes about choosing how to live. With the help of therapists, they can help manage and cope with the new living situation.
- Deal With Gender Reassignment– When you decide to make a physical transition to your experienced gender at some point, therapy can help you deal with any mixed feelings or fears you have about changing your gender through medical procedures.
What Are The Treatment Methods?
The gender dysphoria treatments are designed to help deal with or overcome the dysphoric experience of gender. In addition, it can consist of various types of individual or group therapy. However, keep in mind that the problem here isn’t the gender identity but the discomfort associated with it.
For this reason, gender dysphoria treatment is best accomplished through a team approach with clinicians from different specialties, such as in psychology, endocrinology, social work, surgery, and urology. Treatment options include the following:
- Counseling. This is given to some people who experience gender dysphoria who don’t wish to pursue medical or surgical transition. Let’s say wanting to live and be recognized as your affirmed gender without using hormones or having gender affirmation surgery. The role of the experienced therapist here is to support you during all parts of your gender identity journey.
- Hormone therapy. This therapy is for people who wish to develop more physical characteristics of their affirmed gender, supplemental hormones. During childhood, puberty-blocking hormones can suppress the physical changes associated with puberty until they and their parents are ready to affirm their gender. On the other hand, in adults and adolescents who have passed puberty, hormones can help encourage the development of gender-affirming physical traits.
- Surgery. As part of the gender affirmation process, people may want to undergo procedures, such as chest reconstruction or breast augmentation, also known as top surgery and metoidioplasty, phalloplasty, or vaginoplasty, also known as bottom” surgery. People who resort to undergoing surgery do this after taking other steps in their gender affirmation journey first, such as taking supplemental hormones.
The Bottom Line
Overall, there are now many ways to deal with the feelings of whatever your gender identity. By knowing the best treatment, acceptance of your inner gender identity can help you live the life that matches your gender experience. Royalty Wellness Spa offers a Gender Testing service that helps with the process of determining whether one is a male or a female in an intimate and friendly environment.