There is an erroneous assumption often made outside of the transgender community that all trans people experience gender dysphoria. Some people go further and promote the false belief that gender dysphoria is intrinsic to being transgender, a perspective sometimes referred to as ‘Transmedicalism’.

Transmedicalism brings together unusual allies, some within the transphobic gender critical movement who see it as a useful tool in their quest to erase transgender people and their identities, and a minority within the community itself who believe that only those who have been diagnosed with gender dysphoria and who have completed surgical and other medical transition can truly be considered trans.

Claiming that gender dysphoria is intrinsic to having a transgender identity is a perspective that effectively erases the identity of a huge swathe of the transgender community, including non-binary people. It is also counter to any definition of being transgender outlined by public bodies and specialists, from the American Psychiatric Association to the NHS.

Many trans people know and understand that their gender identity does not match the sex assigned to them at birth yet do not experience dysphoria. Not every trans man, trans woman, or non-binary person experiences emotional pain, discomfort, or other negative feelings deriving from the body in which they live. Further, not everybody needs to take any steps to medically transition in order to express their gender identity and live as themselves.

Making gender dysphoria inherent to trans identity, experience, and indeed definitive to it, leads to a series of clearly untrue and indeed perverse conclusions.

It makes suffering intrinsic to trans identity and experience, something that is not only demonstrably untrue, but upon even a moment’s reflection, cruel as a framework. A person’s gender identity is not emergent from or dependent on trauma, and they don’t need to be subject to discomfort and suffering to ‘qualify’ as who they are.

It denies bodily autonomy and applies gatekeeping criteria to a person’s gender identity based on events to which they are physically and/or medically subjected.

It drags us back to a world where people claim that they can tell others who they are, what gender they experience, and undermine self-knowledge, with those requiring gender dysphoria as a ‘qualification’ of being trans claiming to control and define the gender identity and selfhood of others. This is in fact a component of transphobia and trans erasure, and a dangerous precedent for the community.

Unfortunately, this deliberate and erroneous definition, binding trans identity to having gender dysphoria, has had profound consequences for many trans people. NHS pathway services still require a formal diagnosis of gender dysphoria for trans people to be able to access care, excluding many trans people from their support.

Trans people, those who experience gender dysphoria and those who don’t, have a right to access gender-affirming support, and should not have to defend who they are, especially not according to arbitrary and unfounded criteria.

At GenderGP we believe that you are who you say you are – we are not the gatekeepers of your identity and experience. Instead, we are here to help you explore your identity and how you best want to express it, living as yourself without judgment or artificial obstacles.