What Is Gender Dysphoria? Gender dysphoria is something that is becoming more and more commonly talked about as more individuals come forward about the fact that they do not feel that their internal gender identities align with their biological sex. For these individuals, attempting to navigate their communities and social settings with external presentations and assumptions that do not align with who they truly feel themselves to be on the inside can be incredibly difficult and many individuals find that counselling helps them to better express themselves and their true gender identity within society while also navigating the emotions and anxieties that may develop throughout that process. Horizon Plymouth is an established counselling service in Plymouth that understands the unique needs of individuals with gender dysphoria and can help those struggling with gender dysphoria heal, grow, and evolve into understanding your true self.
What is gender dysphoria?
Understanding the concept of gender dysphoria revolves primarily around understanding what gender identity means and how it differs from biological sex. Biological sex is the sex that is assigned at birth and is typically binary and based on the presence of male or female genitalia. However, gender identity is the gender that an individual feels themselves to truly be on the inside, and it doesn’t always match their assigned sex at birth. For example, someone who was assigned female at birth due to the presence of female genitalia may feel that their gender identity is more masculine, while someone who was assigned male at birth due to the presence of male genitalia may feel that their gender identity is more feminine. Additionally, gender identity does not have to fall on a binary scale, and individuals may identify as non-binary or gender fluid. Some people pursue surgical and hormonal routes to alter their physical bodies to accurately express their gender identity, while others do not.
So what does this mean for those with gender dysphoria? Attempting to navigate a world which, intentionally or not, pressures an individual to behave in a way that matches their biological sex and not necessarily their gender identity can be understandably distressing. Behaving in a way that does not align with core elements of yourself can cause individuals to feel uncomfortable in social situations, unhappy with their bodies due to the perceived disconnect, or isolated, anxious, and depressed. Oftentimes, individuals are also bullied or harassed by their peers at school or work, furthering the negative impact.
Counselling for gender dysphoria
Gender dysphoria is not a mental illness or something to be “cured.” However, those who experience an internal gender identity that does not match their biological sex can be at risk for certain mental health issues as a result of the struggles that they face in order to simply go about their day. Often, counselling can help these individuals work through these feelings and any other mental health challenges that may arise. However, not every individual with gender dysphoria experiences negative mental health effects as a result, usually due to the presences of strong protective factors that can help their journey to be wholesome and healing. Some protective factors that can reduce the risk of depression and anxiety in individuals with gender dysphoria include:
- A strong family or social support system in place
- Pre-emptive counselling designed to guide your journey and reduce negative experiences
- Healthy coping strategies, hobbies, or outlets
In part two of this series on gender dysphoria, we will be diving into what counselling for gender dysphoria looks like, and how the expert staff at Horizon Plymouth can help each individual to work through internal struggles in order to be able to live the life that they feel is most true to their inner selves.