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Gender Identity Issues

Updated: July 23, 2022

Gender identity issues, and specifically dysphoria refer to the unease that a person may experience between their sense of identity, and their biological sex.  When this unease deepens, an individual may start to feel anxious, and depressed, and experience difficulty in their daily life.

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What Are Gender Issues?

Gender identity issues relate to a number of problems that individuals can experience due to their gender identity.  For example, Gender dysphoria is when a person is unable to reconcile their gender identity with their biological sex and its related physical characteristics.

 

This creates discomfort, and upset.  Gender-diverse and transgender people may at some point in their lives, experience gender dysphoria.  However, this is not always the case, some people who identify as transgender and gender-diverse do not feel the need for medical intervention because they are at ease with their bodies.

 

The American Psychiatric Association include gender dysphoria in their Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-V).  This means that gender dysphoria is now a recognised psychiatric diagnosis which means that people who experience gender dysphoria are able to access health care and treatment.  Individuals may struggle with acceptance, transitioning, feeling comfort within their bodies, and with who they are.

What Are The Symptoms?

Differences In Affect & Behaviour

An individual experiencing gender dysphoria may wish to be treated as the gender they identify as, and behave as they believe this gender does.

Difficulties In Functioning

Due to the distress that arises from gender issues, and sometimes discrimination, individuals can experience difficulties in functioning across multiple areas.  For example, in social situations and at school or work, which can lead to dropping out, unemployment, or securing employment.

Incongruence Between Identity & Sex

If someone feels incongruence between their (gender) identity and sex, over an extended period (at least six months), they may wish to prevent the development of natural sex characteristics.  Or they might want to be rid of their genitalia, or want the genitals and sex characteristics of the gender they identify with.

Mental Health Problems

Individuals often experience complex mental health issues, often feeling confused, and conflicted.  This can lead to loneliness, stress, depression, anxiety, self-harm, eating disorders, substance misuse, and suicidal ideation.

Relationship Problems

Individuals may feel unable to talk to those around them, due to feeling stigmatised, and a fear of being judged, or rejected.  This can cause some people to withdraw and isolate themselves.

Worry

Individuals may worry about the impact of their gender issues on their family, friends, and career.  It can feel scary not knowing how to reconcile one’s identity with others’ expectations.

What Causes Gender Identity Issues?

No direct cause has been established for gender identity issues or gender dysphoria, however there are likely a variety of factors that play a role in their development.  Such issues normally develop during childhood, may or may not desist, and recur later in life.

For example: genetic factors, environment, politics, society, and culture.  It is also suggested that other developmental or mental health ‘disorders’ may co-occur with gender identity issues.

There have been reports in which some children who experience loneliness and other mental health problems, like depression, appear to be prone towards gender dysphoria, as is common with disordered eating, or self-harm.  This is thought to be due to a combination of the need to belong during a time of major development, change, and sometimes upheaval.  This can result in much discomfort and confusion about one’s identity.

There have been cases in which gender dysphoria was seen to be some individuals’ way of rejecting societal norms imposed on them.  For example, males may reject toxic masculinity, and females may reject objectification, so may seek to identify as another gender they feel more comfortable with.

How Phinity Therapy Can Help

At Phinity, we have worked with people who have experienced gender identity issues.  We aim to provide a safe and accepting space for individuals to explore their feelings, concerns, worries, and fantasies.  All without judgement, so individuals are able to come to their own conclusions, about their own identity.

We will start by taking a thorough psychological assessment with you.  This is collaborative and helps us to understand you and your life.  Depending on your individual needs, we offer a variety of talk therapies.

We will work with you to understand what it is you are experiencing and, if applicable, develop strategies to reveal gender or sexual identity concerns to close others.  We are also able to involve your family more directly, via family therapy.

Counselling provides the kind of space that encourages making sense of your options for the future.  For example, you may be considering the use of pronouns.  Or at times, you may notice unrelated situations are negatively impacted by your general mood and mental health.  Therapy can offer the space for you to work through and disentangle concerns.

You may be anywhere on the spectrum, that is, you may be cisgender, considering transitioning, have transitioned or are considering de-transitioning.  In all instances, you will be affirmed and accepted, and we will work alongside you to help you make sense of the issues that are troubling you.

We aim to encourage affirmation of your gender and sexual identity and help you work through discomfort and confusion.  You will learn strategies and how to make decisions.  We hope to facilitate the development of a greater understanding of yourself, and your identity.  All of this to help you to move toward feeling less conflicted and more congruent with yourself.  You will gain confidence about who you are, and actualise your identity.  This entails open, honest, and courageous exploration, in a safe and facilitative space – which we will provide.

What Causes Gender Identity Issues?How Phinity Therapy Can Help

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