What Are the Most Common Dysphoria Symptoms?

Laura M. Sands

In children, dysphoria symptoms may include an intense preoccupation with dressing like an opposite sex child, a proclivity toward playing with toys that are socially deemed to be for the opposite sex and the strong belief that one will eventually grow up to be an adult of the opposite sex. Children with gender dysphoria often desire to be addressed by a name that is stereotypically assigned to people of the opposite sex and often express dislike toward their own genitalia while expressing a desire to have the genitalia of the opposite sex, instead. In adults, similar dysphoria symptoms may exist and, while gender reassignment surgery is often sought by people struggling with this type of gender identity disorder, doctors are reluctant to perform such a procedure on individuals who have not shown signs of dysphoria for at least two consecutive years. Dysphoria is often treated with psychological intervention and early childhood symptoms are not necessarily an indicator of a person’s sexual orientation later in life.

Although gender dysphoria can occur at any age, it commonly occurs in children.
Although gender dysphoria can occur at any age, it commonly occurs in children.

The strong need to be identified with names, styles of dress, toys and activities that are socially attributed to members of the opposite sex are some of the hallmark dysphoria symptoms. Individuals who exhibit these symptoms do not merely express a desire to be identified as a member of the opposite sex, but also experience extreme stress as a result of being born in what they tend to believe is the wrong sex. Often, these symptoms are exhibited at a very young age when the child is not able to adequately understand or articulate her or his discomfort with their body.

Gender dysphoria can make a person feel isolated from their peers.
Gender dysphoria can make a person feel isolated from their peers.

Among the first steps in treating dysphoria symptoms is to seek psychological assistance and support to help the person understand her or his condition. Medical tests are also performed to determine whether or not a hormonal imbalance may contribute to these feelings. In many instances, it is only when there is no underlying physical cause for symptoms that a person is diagnosed as having true dysphoria symptoms.

While dysphoria symptoms are often carried from childhood into adulthood, this is not always so. Dysphoria symptoms are also not necessarily a predictor of a person’s sexual preference later in life. Some children who exhibit early symptoms of dysphoria do not experience symptoms in adulthood and, while research shows that many people end up being homosexual adults, many people with symptoms in childhood grow up to be heterosexual adults. Many with dysphoria also eventually opt for gender reassignment surgery, but not all do.

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