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Gender Identity


Gender Dysphoria is the emotional stress and struggles that people suffer when there is a conflict between their genetically determined gender and their gender identity.


What is Gender Dysphoria?

To talk about Gender Dysphoria, it is important to understand a few new vocabulary terms needed to describe the specifics of the condition.

Gender” is the primary term for describing the usually biological factors combined with the psychological, social, emotional, and lived roles of male and female. It is also a legal term.

Gender Identity” is a social identity that connotes an individual to be male, female, both, or neither. It is a deeply held belief and does not always correspond to biological or assigned at birth gender.

Gender Expression” describes the ways in which a person communicates their gender externally.  Please note that this may or may not reflect their gender identity or their sexual orientation.

Gender Nonconforming” designates a person who believes their gender identity to be one of many possible genders beyond strictly female or male.

Natal Gender” or “Gender Assigned at Birth” is the gender that doctors declared for the person at birth, based on external sex characteristics.

Transgender” is a term used to describe a person who identifies with a gender that was not assigned at birth or whose gender expression is different than a cultural norm.

Transition” indicates that a person is undergoing a process that is discovering or undergoing a change.  This may or may not include hormones, surgery, or therapy.

Gender Affirming” describes the process of transitioning to another gender, typically through hormone treatment and possibly surgery.

Primary sex characteristics” are genitals and reproductive organs, like the penis, vagina, testicles, ovaries, and uterus.

Secondary sex characteristics” are physical attributes specific to someone’s natal gender that develop during puberty. They are what make men appear male and women appear female, like body shape, breasts, facial hair, and voice tone.

Out with the old

The diagnosis of Gender Dysphoria represents a more enlightened view of what the older concept, Gender Identity Disorder. The new category focuses on the emotional distress that results from patients feeling that they should be a different gender than the one assigned at birth.

This is in contrast to the old concept of Gender Identity Disorder.  There, the problem was with gender identity rather than the emotional troubles that accompanied those feelings.  The new understanding is less stigmatizing. It no longer sees the different gender feelings as a disorder and instead addresses the difficulties these patients encounter.

Who gets Gender Dysphoria?

Congenital hormone disorders

People who are born with abnormal levels of natural hormones or whose bodies do not react to hormones appropriately are more likely to have Gender Dysphoria. Sometimes the baby’s gender is not clear at birth because the hormone disorders prevent the correct development of their genitals.

Family trends

People with Gender Dysphoria are more likely to have family members who also have Gender Dysphoria.

Kids, adolescents, and adults

Starting after the toddler stage, people of all ages can develop Gender Dysphoria. For some adults with Gender Dysphoria, it started at a young age and continued into adulthood. For others, it could start later, with no early signs of feelings of conflict over gender identity.

Types of Gender Identity

Wondering about a possible disorder but not sure? Let’s explore your symptoms.


“What is Gender Dysphoria?” American Psychiatric Association.

Guide to Being a Straight Ally.  PFLAG.