Symptoms of Gender Dysphoria: Causes & Diagnosis
Gender dysphoria is a mental disorder which causes feelings of discomfort with one’s biological gender. Some of the symptoms are:
Difficulty identifying as their own gender
Feeling uncomfortable with their body (i.e. feeling different)
Hating their birth gender
Fear of being ridiculed or discriminated against if they were to transition into the other gender.
In some cases, it may cause them to feel suicidal. In more serious cases, it may cause them to act upon such urges and perform acts of self harm.
You may be wondering how to identify the symptoms of gender dysphoria, and quite frankly, we do not have a definite way of doing so. Some people experience this naturally and some learn it from their peers or groups they have gotten involved in. Others may have experienced an event that caused them to internalize this feeling. The best way to find out is to talk to them and be there for them, as they will open up to you when they’re ready.
Friends may have told you that you need to get them help right away, but this may not be the case. Most teenagers who experience gender dysphoria go through a phase as they try and figure out who they are, so do not panic immediately. Instead, keep an eye on them and monitor their behavior. See if they start dressing differently, as this can be a big indicator.
If they start doing so, then you’re going to want to come in and talk to them.
In most cases, this phase will pass and they will learn to accept their gender. It is only in some rare cases that these feelings persist into adulthood where they will need more professional help. If you manage to catch it early, then your chances of saving them are much higher than if you wait too long and miss their window of opportunity.
These symptoms can also be confused with other issues that they may have. If they have an eating disorder, then this may cause them to feel a lack of satisfaction with their body. If they are depressed, then this may cause them to also have suicidal thoughts. It is important that you do not jump to conclusions and that you make sure to identify the problem before trying to solve it.
How is Gender Dysphoria Treated?
Now that you have identified that your loved one suffers from gender dysphoria, the next step is to get them help. If they are not willing to get professional help themselves, then it is going to be your job to push them in that direction.
There are multiple ways of doing so. You can try and appeal to their logic by telling them that you care about them and don’t want to see them suffer. You can also try and appeal to their emotions by telling them that you are there for them and will help them through this.
Take them to a psychologist or psychiatrist and have them diagnose the problem. While going through this you should also try and monitor their behavior. It’s important that you don’t ignore their symptoms and that you continue to give them support while they go through the therapy. They may get angry with you for a time, but just continue to be firm and let them know that you want to help.
It’s also important to understand that there is a fairly large chance they may not want the help. Teenagers tend to be stubborn and may see any attempt at making them seek help as an attack on their freedom. In this case, there isn’t much you can do except to keep an eye on them and hope that they come to you of their own accord.
Another thing to keep in mind is that this may not be the only problem they have. It’s fairly common for teenagers to experience mental illness or even just general unhappiness. If you suspect that this may be the case, then you may have to get them help with those problems before you can address the gender dysphoria.
Sources & references used in this article:
- Autistic symptoms in children and adolescents with gender dysphoria (AIR van der Miesen, ALC de Vries… – Journal of Autism and …, 2018 – Springer)
- Dissociative symptoms in individuals with gender dysphoria: Is the elevated prevalence real? (M Colizzi, R Costa, O Todarello – Psychiatry research, 2015 – Elsevier)
- Gender dysphoria and minority stress: Support for inclusion of gender dysphoria as a proximal stressor. (L Lindley, MP Galupo – … of Sexual Orientation and Gender Diversity, 2020 – psycnet.apa.org)
- Correlates of gender dysphoria in Taiwanese university students (MC Lai, YN Chiu, KD Gadow, SSF Gau… – Archives of Sexual …, 2010 – Springer)
- Do children with gender dysphoria have intense/obsessional interests? (DP VanderLaan, L Postema, H Wood… – The Journal of Sex …, 2015 – Taylor & Francis)
- The effect of cross-sex hormonal treatment on gender dysphoria individuals’ mental health: a systematic review (R Costa, M Colizzi – Neuropsychiatric Disease and Treatment, 2016 – ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Mental health and gender dysphoria: A review of the literature (C Dhejne, R Van Vlerken, G Heylens… – International Review of …, 2016 – Taylor & Francis)