Gender dysphoria is a phenomenon that is common in children who identify as transgender. Transgender children are those who do not identify as the sex they were assigned at birth. This is not a psychiatric disorder, but a medical condition that can be treated. Gender dysphoria in children is diagnosed when a child has extreme distress due to being transgender.
What is Dysphoria?
Children who are transgender and have significant distress about the sex they were born as are experiencing gender dysphoria. The child might feel trapped in the wrong body and unable to be who they are on the inside. Gender dysphoria is a distinct disorder that has helped remove some of the stigma of being transgender and shifted the concern from changing these people to assisting them.
What to Look For
Most children with gender dysphoria will show signs of incongruence between the gender they were assigned and the gender they experience. This might mean having a preference for toys, activities, and dress of the other gender. The child may also assert they are the other gender or show a strong dislike for their own anatomy. However, to be dysphoria, this experience must cause impairment or distress to a significant degree.
What to Do Next
When a child experiences discomfort with their assigned sex for longer than six months, it’s best to seek the help of professionals. To be diagnosed, the child must have feelings of incongruence between their assigned and experienced gender, as well as the desire to be the other gender. This person will also be distressed to a high degree which causes problems functioning at home, school, or in other social settings.
The first step is often to speak with a therapist who can help the child learn to understand and manage the distress they feel as a result of gender dysphoria in children. With the guidance of a professional, the child can learn to cope better, and management of the disorder can begin. This person can also help family members better understand what is happening and how they can help their child in situations in the world.
If you believe your child has gender dysphoria, or you are interested in learning more about transgender topics, the International Center of Transgender Care offers many helpful resources. We offer gender therapy for the transgender child and can provide parents with information and assistance they need.