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Gender Dysphoria: Terms and Definitions

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.

However, they identify themselves as a woman. Meanwhile, 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. Below is a list of important terms when it comes to Gender Dysphoria

  • Gender Dysphoria: is a mismatch between a person’s biological sex and gender identity.
    • Gender dysphoria: is sometimes known as gender identity disorder (GID), gender incongruence, or transgenderism.
  • Assigned at birth is your biological sex. Moreover, it depends on the appearance, development, and growth of the genitals adjacent to natal hormone production.
  • Gender Identity is the gender or gender role that a person identifies.

Today, there is a much greater understanding of gender dysphoria. Contrarily,  people with gender dysphoria can still face prejudice and misunderstanding.



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What are the signs of Gender Dysphoria?

  • You are, with certainty, a gender identity different to your biological sex assigned at birth.
  • You are happy with the social role and gender role of your preferred gender identity.
  • You are making decisions that hide certain gender features that don’t align with your preferred gender.

With that in mind, gender dysphoria can have a diverse range of signs. It’s important to understand that everyone’s experience is different. The above notes are just guidelines and by no means representation of everyone’s experience.

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 a result of treatment.


  1. Davy, Zowie. (2018). What Is Gender Dysphoria? A Critical Systematic Narrative Review. Transgender health. 3 (1), p159-169. Link: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6225591/ Last Accessed: 25/10/2021
  2. Meyer-Bahlburg, Heino. (2019). “Diagnosing” Gender? Categorizing Gender-Identity Variants in the Anthropocene. Archives of Sexual Behavior. 48 (1), p2027–2035. Link: https://link-springer-com.dcu.idm.oclc.org/article/10.1007%2Fs10508-018-1349-6 Last Accessed: 25/10/2021

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 concerning 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