Social dysphoria & Gender identity (A guide)

In this blog post, we talk about the signs and symptoms of social dysphoria, treatment options and complications regarding this type of dysphoria. We also talk about the differences between social and gender dysphoria.

What is social dysphoria?

Social dysphoria is a type of dysphoria linked to particular social situations. Thus, a person may have social dysphoria when having to explain their gender identity, when they are judged based on their appearance, when they meet someone new, at a job interview, and so on. 

In order to understand what social dysphoria is, we first must clarify what gender dysphoria is.

Gender dysphoria occurs when a person strongly feels that the gender identity assigned at birth does not correspond to the gender with which he or she identifies. Normally, when a baby is born, gender is assigned to it based on its anatomy.

This determines the behaviours and activities that parents will practice with him. For example, if a girl is born, her parents will buy her dolls and dress her in pink, and if a boy is born, the clothes will be blue and the toys will be represented by cars or robots.

Over time, children may come to feel that their anatomy is inconsistent with the gender they are feeling. For example, a person with female intimate organs may feel, despite his anatomy, that he is a man and that he wants a male body.

Thus, specific behaviours can be adopted for men, but a masculine outfit can also be adopted. In some cases, you may want to change your name or use masculine pronouns when discussing your own person. Some people may make major sacrifices to change their gender.

In some cases, it may be hormone treatment, but in others, it may require gender-change surgery.

People with gender dysphoria feel anxiety and dissatisfaction with their gender, but many do not openly admit it out of fear of ridicule, shame or abandonment. Because of this, it is not known exactly how common gender dysphoria is.

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Signs and symptoms of social dysphoria

The symptoms are extremely important for making a diagnosis. Thus, the criteria are different for children and adults.

In adolescents and adults, the diagnosis is based on the persistence of at least two symptoms for a period of at least 6 months. Symptoms include:

– A marked mismatch between biological gender attributed and expressed;

– Strong desire to get rid of the intimate characters of the assigned gender;

– Disgust with the genitals, avoiding hygiene or touching them;

– Strong desire to have intimate characteristics of the opposite gender;

– Increased desire to belong to the desired gender;

– Increased desire to be treated according to the desired gender;

– The persistent belief that feelings and feelings belong to the other gender.

In children, the diagnosis of gender dysphoria involves the association of at least six symptoms or significant impairment of functionality for a minimum of six months.

The symptoms are represented by:

– Strong desire to have the opposite gender;

– Preference for clothes intended for the other gender;

– Preferences for role-playing games in which people of the opposite gender can be imitated;

– The desire to use games and toys, but also to do activities specific to the opposite gender;

– Desire to participate in team games but in the opposite gender team;

– Rejection of anything intended for the same gender;

– Marked contempt for gender anatomy and gender contestation;

– Refusal to urinate in the usual position of each gender;

– Suffering when there are bodily changes in the type of puberty;

– Interest in the physical characteristics of the opposite gender and the desire to have them.

In the case of children, these behaviours occur around 2-4 years, the same age at which they begin to show interest in gender-specific activities. Studies have shown that those children who experienced these symptoms were more likely to want to change their gender at adulthood.

However, this type of behaviour can sometimes be normal in young children.

Treatment options for social dysphoria and gender dysphoria

Gender or social dysphoria are not treated in the true sense of the word. Thus, this treatment aims to alleviate the dissatisfaction and anxiety caused, but also to avoid complications.

Several treatment options are available:

Psychotherapy – many people with social dysphoria suffer from anxiety and depression, but in more severe cases self-harm behaviours can occur. Psychotherapy can help affected people cope with these feelings in a healthy and positive way.

Suppression of puberty – if a child is diagnosed with gender dysphoria, doctors may use certain ways to stop the release of hormones. Without certain hormones, the body remains unchanged.

Hormone therapy – in this therapy women can take testosterone to stimulate hair growth, muscle development and thickening of the voice, and men can take estrogen to stimulate the growth of breast tissue, redistribution of fat and change the appearance of the face.

Surgery – gender-change operations are a method by which people with gender dysphoria can be satisfied with their lives.

Social dysphoria can be a very challenging condition for an individual of any age. Thus, the team of doctors and professionals is vital.

The transition period from one gender to another involves many physical and mental changes, and to cope more easily requires support from basic and trustworthy people.

Complications

Proper diagnosis and proper treatment are very important because people with social dysphoria have much higher rates of developing various mental health disorders.

Thus, some studies state that approximately 71% of people with gender dysphoria will at some point develop other mental health disorders, such as anxiety disorder, schizophrenia, depression, substance abuse and eating disorders.

Other complications or problems faced by people with gender dysphoria may include:

Discrimination – the judgment to which people who want or have made a gender change are exposed is increased, and the psychological consequences are frequent;

Victimization – people with gender dysphoria are more prone to harassment and crimes that include hatred than the general public;

Increased risk of suicide – people with depression, sadness and anxiety have a higher risk of self-harm and, ultimately, suicide;

Emotional disorders – bullying and mean jokes from colleagues can affect children with gender dysphoria. This is also true for adults, causing long-term mental health problems.

Gender dysphoria is no longer on the list of mental disorders

Since May 2019, gender dysphoria is no longer considered a mental disorder, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). This decision was made on May 25 following a major resolution to amend its health recommendations.

The United Nations agency responsible for health has approved the decision to remove the notion of “gender identity disorder” from its global diagnosis manual, a move that will have a “liberating effect on transgender people around the world,” says Human Rights Watch. 

Gender non-compliance is now included in the chapter on intimate health, instead of “mental disorder”, as was the case until now. Activists hope that the ICD-11 will be implemented by the 194 WHO member states in the next three years.

In several countries around the world, the medical process of gender transition is based on an outdated DCI, which classifies being a transgender person as a “gender identity disorder” under the category of “mental disorder”. In Japan, for example, the law requires people who want to change their gender to be diagnosed with “gender identity disorder” and to be sterilized until their new gender identity is reflected in official documents.

According to research conducted by Human Rights Watch, transgender people do not want to begin the process of legal recognition of gender, because it requires a visit to a psychiatrist who will diagnose them with the so-called mental disorder, which does not correspond to the reality in which they live.

While ICD-11 is celebrated by many as a step in the right direction, activists want to emphasize that much remains to be done, including putting pressure on local governments to adopt ICD-11 in the coming years.

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FAQ about social dysphoria

What is social dysphoria?

Social dysphoria is a type of dysphoria linked to particular social situations. Thus, a person may have social dysphoria when having to explain their gender identity, when they are judged based on their appearance, when they meet someone new, at a job interview, and so on. 

What does social dysphoria feel like?

Social dysphoria feels like anxiety, discomfort, stress, especially in social situations when someone assumes your gender, uses the wrong pronoun, or judges you by your appearance. 

How do you know if you have dysphoria?

You know if you have dysphoria if you have two or more of the following signs:
A marked mismatch between biological gender attributed and expressed;
– Strong desire to get rid of the intimate characters of the assigned gender;
– Disgust with the genitals, avoiding hygiene or touching them;
– Strong desire to have intimate characteristics of the opposite gender;
– Increased desire to belong to the desired gender;
– Increased desire to be treated according to the desired gender;
– The persistent belief that feelings and feelings belong to the other gender.

Can gender dysphoria go away?

Gender dysphoria cannot just go away, if it persists through puberty, it is most likely a permanent feeling.

Can gender dysphoria be a phase?

Gender dysphoria is not just a phase. Gender dysphoria occurs when a person strongly feels that the gender identity assigned at birth does not correspond to the gender with which he or she identifies. 

Conclusions

In this blog post, we talked about the signs and symptoms of social dysphoria, treatment options and complications regarding this type of dysphoria. We also talked about the differences between social and gender dysphoria.

Social dysphoria is a type of dysphoria linked to particular social situations. Gender dysphoria is characterized by the dissatisfaction and discomfort that an individual feels about his own gender. This can make the person want to have the opposite gender, resorting to any means of help, including surgery.

Social dysphoria is associated with high levels of stigma, discrimination and victimization, helping to reduce self-esteem and increase the likelihood of developing various mental health disorders.

In adolescents and adults, concern about gender issues can interfere with daily activities and can cause problems in relationships or functioning at school or work.

Children with social dysphoria can be teased or harassed, becoming extremely susceptible to emotional and behavioural disorders. Asking for specialized help, including psychotherapy, can help overcome the difficulties that come with social dysphoria.

Further reading

Exploring the Dimensions of Human gender, by  Jerrold S. Greenberg

Diversity in Couple and Family Therapy: Ethnicities, gender, and Socioeconomics, by Shalonda Kelly

Identities and Inequalities: Exploring the Intersections of Race, Class, Gender, & gender (B&b Sociology) by David Newman 

Just Your Type: Create the Relationship You’ve Always Wanted Using the Secrets of Personality Type, by Paul D. Tieger 

References

Time.com

 Human Rights Watch

Mayoclinic.org

Transequality.org

Nonbinary.wiki

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