Children with gender dysphoria are often referred to as “transgender,” a term that describes someone who does not identify with the sex characteristics he or she was born with. Being transgender is not a psychiatric disorder, but it can be a source of significant stress for children, who often experience bullying, exclusion, and other forms of stigma. Gender dysphoria is diagnosed only if a child experiences severe distress due to being transgender, or has impaired functioning at school, at home, or in social settings.
- Marked incongruence between the gender a child feels he or she experiences and the gender he or she was biologically assigned to
- Feelings of being “trapped” inside a body whose gender the child does not identify with
- Strong preferences for clothing, toys, and activities commonly associated with the opposite gender
- Assertions by the child that he or she is another gender or plans to grow up to be the other gender
- Intense dislike for one’s own sexual anatomy
- Ardent desire to obtain sex characteristics of the gender the child experiences
Psychotherapy can be used to treat gender dysphoria by helping a child understand and manage the stress that gender dysphoria causes.