Gender Dysphoria: What Is It?

Not all children and adolescents fully identify with the sex characteristics they were born with. Some girls subjectively feel as though they are actually boys, and some boys subjectively feel as though they are actually girls. This phenomenon, commonly referred to as being “transgender,” is not a psychiatric disorder, but when children experience significant distress as a result of being transgender, they may have the disorder called gender dysphoria. A child with gender dysphoria is one who experiences great anguish as a result of feeling “trapped” inside a body that does not match the gender he feels himself to be internally. The creation of gender dysphoria as a distinct disorder was meant to remove the stigma from being transgender, and to shift the concern of mental health professionals to assisting those for whom the experience of being transgender has resulted in significant distress and impaired functioning.