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Help With Gender Dysphoria

Curated and updated for the community by APA

Gender dysphoria involves a conflict between a person's physical or assigned gender and the gender with which he/she/they identify. People with gender dysphoria may be very uncomfortable with the gender they were assigned, sometimes described as being uncomfortable with their body (particularly developments during puberty) or being uncomfortable with the expected roles of their assigned gender.

See definition, symptoms, & treatment

  • Oct 16, 2017
Focus on Preventing Bullying

October is National Bullying Prevention Month, a national public awareness campaign led by PACER's National Bullying Prevention Center.

  • Oct 11, 2017
Mental Health: Many Challenges to Getting Needed Help

We’ll take a look at some data from 2016, the latest available, on how many people are affected, how many are getting treatment and why many are not getting treatment.

  • Oct 05, 2017
Former Surgeon General Talks about Stress in America

Former Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, M.D., recently sat down to talk with National Institutes of Health Director, Francis Collins, M.D., Ph.D., to talk about the public health consequences of stress in America—how stress is affecting us and what we can do about it.

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What is the difference between transgender and transsexual?

Transgender is a non-medical term that has been used increasingly since the 1990s as an umbrella term describing individuals whose gender identity (inner sense of gender) or gender expression (outward performance of gender) differs from the sex or gender to which they were assigned at birth. Some people who use this term do not consider themselves as matching a binary gender category. In addition, new terms such as genderqueer, bigendered, and agendered are increasingly in use.

Transsexual is a historic, medical term that refers to individuals who have undergone some form of medical and/or surgical treatment for gender reassignment (historically referred to as sex reassignment). Some transsexual individuals may identify as transgender, although others primarily identify as the male or female gender to which they have transitioned.

People who identify as transgender but who do not seek medical or surgical treatment are not transsexual.

Is there a general age that people realize they are transgender or experience gender dysphoria? Can it happen late in life?

Not all transgender people suffer from gender dysphoria and that distinction is important to keep in mind. Gender dysphoria and/or coming out as transgender can occur at any age.

The DSM-5 distinguishes between Gender Dysphoria in Childhood for those who experience GD before puberty. The diagnosis of Gender Dysphoria in Adolescents and Adults can occur at any age. For those who experience gender dysphoria later in life, they often report having secretly hidden their gender dysphoric feelings from others when they were younger.

About the Experts:


Jack Drescher, M.D.
Clinical Professor of Psychiatry, New York Medical College
Adjunct Professor, New York University


Jack Pula, M.D.
Psychiatrist in private practice in New York City

Transgender Non-Conforming Youth: One Experience of Many

My fourth child is a transgender boy, and I love him. At 2 he climbed up on the kitchen counter when his dad and I were doing the dishes.

He refused to toilet train until we bought him boxers. Desperate for him to toilet train so he could start preschool at 3, we did. We were dismayed to see him freeze when he was asked to use pink scissors or line up with the girls in PE, and mortified to overhear other parents ask each other, “What kind of parents would name a boy Samantha?”. More

Have a Story of Your Own to Share?

Editor's Choice

AUG 9, 2017

For Transgender Women, an Extra Dose of Fear

New York Times

In an era in which protections allowing transgender students to use the restrooms they prefer have been rescinded and 14 transgender people have been murdered so far this year, according to the Human Rights Campaign, an L.G.B.T. rights advocacy group, many transgender people say they feel increasingly unsafe, and that “passing” is necessary for survival.

AUG 7, 2017

AP publishes parents' guide to transgender children

The Slowly Boiled Frog (blog)

Jocelyn Gecker at the Associated Press has penned an outstanding piece on gender dysphoric kids. What I like about it most is the pains she, and the experts she interviewed, take to separate out the difference between a childhood phase and real gender dysphoria. In simplest terms a parent needs to evaluate whether or not their child is in distress. Moreover a boy might say “I wish I were a girl.” A gender dysphoric child will assert “I am a girl.”

AUG 2, 2017

How Stigma Against Trans People and the Mentally Ill Poisons Our Politics and Culture

Slate Magazine (blog)

Gender dysphoria is the distress a person experiences when their physical, birth-assigned sex doesn't match their inner sense of what their own gender is or should be. “Distress is the key to disentangling identity versus mental illness,” explained Dominic Sisti, an assistant professor in medical ethics and psychiatry at the University of Pennsylvania who runs the Scattergood Program for Applied Ethics in Behavioral Health Care. “With trans people there’s a confusion that feelings of gender mismatch are somehow unnatural or diseased, when in fact they’re not.”