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Gender dysphoria - Symptoms of gender dysphoria

NHS Choices Medical Reference

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There are no physical symptoms of gender dysphoria, but there are a range of feelings that people with the condition may experience, and behaviours that they may display

.

In many cases, a person with gender dysphoria will begin to feel that there is a mismatch between their biological sex and their gender identity during early childhood.

For others, this may not happen until adulthood.

Children

If your child has gender dysphoria, their behaviour may include:

  • insisting that they are of the opposite sex
  • disliking or refusing to wear clothes that are typically worn by their sex and wanting to wear clothes that are typically worn by the opposite sex
  • disliking or refusing to take part in activities and games that are typically meant for their sex, and wanting to take part in activities and games that are typically meant for the opposite sex
  • disliking or refusing to pass urine as other members of their biological sex usually do, for example a boy may want to sit down to pass urine and a girl may want to stand up
  • insisting or hoping that their genitals will change, for example a boy may want to be rid of his penis, and a girl may want to grow a penis
  • feeling extreme distress at the physical changes of puberty

Children with gender dysphoria may display some, or all, of these types of behaviour. However, in many cases, behaviour such as this is just a part of childhood and does not necessarily mean that your child has gender dysphoria.

For example, many girls behave in a way that can be described as 'tomboyish', which is often seen as part of normal female development. It is also not uncommon for boys to role play as girls and to dress up in their mother's or sister's clothes. This is usually nothing more than a phase.

Most children who behave in these ways do not have gender dysphoria and do not become transsexuals. Only in rare cases does the behaviour persist into the teenage years and adulthood.

Mind, the mental health charity, estimates that the number of people who request gender reassignment surgery (surgery to change a person's physical sex) is around 1 in 30,000 men and 1 in 100,000 women.

Teenagers and adults

If the feelings of gender dysphoria are still present by the time your child is a teenager or adult, it is likely that they are not simply going through a phase or a stage of development.

If you are a teenager or an adult whose feelings of gender dysphoria started in childhood, you may now have a much clearer sense of your gender identity and the way you want to deal with it. Many people with strong feelings of gender dysphoria are fully transsexual by the time they are in their teens.

The ways that gender dysphoria affects teenagers and adults is different to the way that it affects children. If you are a teenager or adult with gender dysphoria, you may feel:

  • without doubt that your gender identity is at odds with your biological sex
  • comfortable only when in the gender role of your preferred gender identity
  • a strong desire to hide or be rid of the physical signs of your sex, such as breasts, body hair and muscle definition
  • a strong dislike for and a strong desire to change or be rid of the genitalia of your biological sex

These feelings can often be very difficult to deal with and, as a result, many transsexuals and people with gender dysphoria may experience depression or suicidal feelings.

See your GP as soon as possible if you have been experiencing feelings of depression or suicide. They will be able to provide help and support.

Alternatively, call the Samaritans on 08457 90 90 90. They are available 24 hours a day to talk through any issues that you may be experiencing, and will do so in total confidence. 

Gender dysphoria

A condition that describes the feeling of a mismatch between your biological sex and your gender identity.

Gender identity

Gender identity is your personal sense of which gender you belong to, or the way that you see yourself.

Transsexual

A transsexual is someone with deep and long-lasting feelings of gender dysphoria, who seeks to alter their biological sex to match their gender identity.
Medical Review: May 19, 2012
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