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Gender dysphoria or gender identity disorder (also called transsexualism) is a strong and persistent desire to identify with the opposite gender rather than the given biological or anatomical gender.
The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for Mental Disorders – IV Text Revision (DSM-IV-TR) says that this desire to belong to the opposite sex “extends beyond a desire for a perceived cultural advantage.” Gender dysphoria however is not a mental illness.
Children between ages three and four normally develop gender identity. This condition may usually manifest at a young age. (1-4)
Children with the condition may show some of the following features –
Boys with gender dysphoria detest their penis or testes and wish their genitals would disappear. They dislike male toys and rough play.
Girl children may refuse to urinate in the sitting position and feel they would grow the male genitalia. They may be confident that they would not grow breasts or menstruate.
These girls have a severe dislike for feminine clothing. These may all be a part of normal growing up and many children may outgrow this phase. However, some continue to have these problems in adolescence and adulthood.
Adolescents and adults may experience –
The features of gender dysphoria may not include concurrent physical intersex condition. This means their genitalia may be normal. In intersex individuals there is presence of ambiguous genitalia.
People with gender dysphoria may develop distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other areas of functioning.
The condition affects self-concept and self-esteem and choice of sexual partners. Gender dysphoria is not the same as homosexualism.
These patients may suffer from anxiety disorders and other psychiatric conditions.
Some sufferers may also experience depression or suicidal feelings. Depression may stem from social isolation and being victims of social prejudice and sexual abuse.