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Gender Dsyphoria


The term “transgender” refers to a person whose sex assigned at birth (i.e. the sex assigned at birth, usually based on external genitalia) does not align their gender identity (i.e., one’s psychological sense of their gender). Some people who are transgender will experience “gender dysphoria,” which refers to psychological distress that results from an incongruence between one’s sex assigned at birth and one’s gender identity. Though gender dysphoria often begins in childhood, some people may not experience it until after puberty or much later.

People who are transgender may pursue multiple domains of gender affirmation, including social affirmation (e.g., changing one’s name and pronouns), legal affirmation (e.g., changing gender markers on one’s government-issued documents), medical affirmation (e.g., pubertal suppression or gender-affirming hormones), and/or surgical affirmation (e.g., vaginoplasty, facial feminization surgery, breast augmentation, masculine chest reconstruction, etc.). Of note, not all people who are transgender will desire all domains of gender affirmation, as these are highly personal and individual decisions.

It is important to note that gender identity is different from gender expression. Whereas gender identity refers to one’s psychological sense of their gender, gender expression refers to the way in which one presents to the world in a gendered way. For example, in much of the U.S., wearing a dress is considered a “feminine” gender expression, and wearing a tuxedo is considered a “masculine” gender expression. Such expectations are culturally defined and vary across time and culture. One’s gender expression does not necessarily align with their gender identity. Diverse gender expressions, much like diverse gender identities, are not indications of a mental disorder.

Gender identity is also different from sexual orientation. Sexual orientation refers to the types of people towards which one is sexually attracted. As with people who are cisgender (people whose sex assigned at birth aligns with their gender identity), people who are transgender have a diverse range of sexual orientations.

American Psychiatric Association (2024, January 1). What Is Gender Dysphoria? Retrieved January 8, 2024, from

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