What is gender dysphoria?

Gender dysphoria is the feeling of discomfort or distress that people whose gender identity differs from the sex assigned at birth or from physical characteristics related to sex may feel. Transgender and gender non-conforming people may experience gender dysphoria at some point in their lives. But not all people are affected. Some transgender and gender non-conforming people are comfortable with their bodies, with or without medical intervention. Dysphoria is often part of what prompts people to make a social or medical transition; to feel more comfortable in your own body. (We must bear in mind that it does not happen to all people who identify with a different sex).

Gender dysphoria is a term that describes the feeling of discomfort that a person may have due to the mismatch between her gender identity and the gender assigned to her at birth. This feeling of discomfort or dissatisfaction can be so intense that it can lead to depression and anxiety and have a detrimental impact on daily life. But why does it happen? This is clearly due to a matter of social expectations. Socially, we have been imposed on how men and women are supposed to be and what body they have to have; then there are trans people who, as a result of the expectations that are had in relation to each gender, fall into this. Gender dysphoria happens in large part because of the social context in which we live. If we did not live in a society in which social rules and norms are imposed on men and women, I might even think that each person could live her identity.

Although we can conceptualize gender dysphoria and body dysmorphia as two different things, they are often not mutually exclusive: trans and non-binary people can experience both simultaneously as they are interconnected. Someone can have a gender dysphoria and also have a body dysmorphia as a symptom. While feelings of body discomfort have to do with gender, trans and non-binary people often simultaneously face distress over their size and shape and control. Although body dysmorphia and gender dysphoria report each other, they do not cause each other.
Some characteristics or ways to identify gender dysphoria are:
• A marked difference between your internal gender identity and primary or secondary sexual characteristics, or anticipated secondary sexual characteristics in young adolescents
• A strong desire to get rid of primary or secondary sexual characteristics due to a marked difference from your internal gender identity, or a desire to prevent the development of anticipated secondary sexual characteristics in young adolescents
• A strong desire for the primary or secondary sexual characteristics of the other gender
• A strong desire to be of the other gender or of an alternative gender different from the assigned gender
• A strong desire to be treated as the other gender or an alternative gender different from the assigned gender
• A firm conviction that you have feelings and reactions typical of the other gender or of an alternative gender different from the assigned gender.

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