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Gender dysphoria is a mismatch between a person’s biological sex and their gender identity. Biological sex is assigned at birth, depending on the appearance of the genitals. Gender identity is the gender that a person “identifies” with or feels themselves to be. Gender dysphoria is also sometimes known as gender identity disorder (GID), gender incongruence, or transgenderism. While there is a much greater understanding of gender dysphoria than there once was, people with gender dysphoria can still face prejudice and misunderstanding.

While biological sex and gender identity are the same for most people, this is not the case for everyone. For example, some people may have the anatomy of a man, but identify themselves as a woman, while others may not feel they are definitively either male or female. This mismatch between sex and gender identity can lead to distressing and uncomfortable feelings.

Gender dysphoria is not a mental illness. It is a recognised medical condition, for which treatment is sometimes appropriate. Treatment aims to help reduce or remove the distressing feelings caused by the mismatch between biological sex and gender identity. For some people, this can mean dressing and living as their preferred gender. For others, it can mean taking hormones or having surgery to change their physical appearance.

Some people with gender dysphoria have a strong and persistent desire to live according to their gender identity, rather than their biological sex. These people are sometimes called transsexual or simply “trans.” Many trans people have treatment to change their body permanently, so that they are more consistent with their gender identity, and the vast majority are satisfied with the eventual results.

Gender dysphoria is not the same as transvestism (the practice of dressing and acting in a style or manner traditionally associated with the opposite sex) and is not related to sexual orientation. People with the condition may identify as straight, gay, lesbian, bisexual, or asexual. Their sexual orientation may change as the result of treatment.


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Dr Helen Webberley is the founder of GenderGP. A passionate advocate for the transgender community, she continues to campaign for real change in the way that trans people are treated in society and particularly in relation to the barriers they face when accessing healthcare. Dr Webberley believes in gender-affirmative care and that the individual is the expert in their own gender identity.


Photo by Dainis Graveris on Unsplash