Gender Dysphoria Disorders

What is it?

Gender dysphoria is more than adhering to nonconforming beliefs about stereotypical gender roles and behaviors. Individuals suffering from gender dysphoria experience strong feelings of distress, resulting from an intense desire to be another gender than the one assigned at birth which can cause significant stress to the gender dysphoria sufferer. It is common for gender dysphoria to arise in adolescence, though it can be diagnosed at any time in a patient’s life.

The core characteristic of gender dysphoria is the decreased quality of life and severe psychological distress produced by an individual’s desire to be another gender than the one they are currently assigned. In patients of all ages, the misalignment between their assigned gender and their experienced or expressed gender – and specifically, the resulting distress – is the primary symptom of gender dysphoria.

Gender Dysphoria

City Psychiatry offers psychological evaluations for gender affirmative surgery candidacy for our patients (ages 18 and up). Our team is dedicated to helping the transgender, non-binary, genderqueer, and gender-expansive community recognizing that transphobia and transmisogyny are interwoven into our society and that the mental health profession has had an unfortunate history of perpetuating these ideas.  Our team is committed to being part of the change for good and live more fully within our values – you deserve nothing less.

Symptoms include:

  • Negative feelings due to the extent of gender-variant activities and/or interests
  • The desire to change one’s primary and/or secondary sex characteristics
  • In adolescents, the wish to avoid the development of expected secondary sex characteristics (often expressed in intense anxiety surrounding puberty)
  • The desire to be treated as a gender that is alternative to the one assigned at birth
  • In adolescents, gender dysphoria may mimic the symptoms of a mood disorder, depression, anxiety, or social/academic challenges

It is important to understand that gender identity is separate from both gender expression and sexual orientation. Gender dysphoria is specifically related to gender identity, which is an individual’s psychological perception of their own gender.


  • Cisgender: Describes a person whose gender identity aligns in a traditional sense with the sex assigned to them at birth.
  • Gender diverse: An umbrella term describing individuals with gender identities and/or expressions that vary from expected developmental norms. This includes people who identify as multiple genders or with no gender at all.
  • Gender dysphoria: A concept designated in the DSM-5 as clinically significant distress or impairment related to a strong desire to be of another gender, which may include desire to change primary and/or secondary sex characteristics. Not all transgender or gender diverse people experience dysphoria.
  • Gender expression: The outward manifestation of a person’s gender, which may or may not reflect their inner gender identity based on traditional expectations. Gender expression incorporates how a person carries themselves, their dress, accessories, grooming, voice/speech patterns and conversational mannerisms, and physical characteristics.
  • Gender identity: A person’s inner sense of being a girl/woman, boy/man, some combination of both, or something else, including having no gender at all. This may or may not correspond to the gender assigned at birth.
  • Nonbinary: A term used by some individuals whose gender identity is neither girl/woman nor boy/man.
  • Sex/gender assigned at birth: Traditional designation of a person as “female,” “male,” or “intersex” based on anatomy (external genitalia and/ or internal reproductive organs) and/or biology (sex chromosomes and/or hormones). “Sex” and “gender” are often used interchangeably, but they are distinct entities. It is best to distinguish between sex, gender identity, and gender expression and to avoid making assumptions about a person regarding one of these characteristics based on knowledge of the others. This is sometimes abbreviated as AFAB (assigned female at birth) or AMAB (assigned male at birth).
  • Sexual orientation: Describes the types of individuals toward whom a person has emotional, physical, and/or romantic attachments.
  • Transgender: An umbrella term describing individuals whose gender identity does not align in a traditional sense with the gender they were assigned at birth. It may also be used to refer to a person whose gender identity is binary and not traditionally associated with that assigned at birth.

American Psychiatric Association. (2021). What is gender dysphoria? Retrieved from

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