Gender Dysphoria In Adolescents: Its Characteristics And Effects

Gender Dysphoria in Adolescents: its characteristics and effects

Adolescence is a period full of discoveries, changes, first times and new experiences. For everyone it is a time in which we have to face new realities and feelings, which can generate problems related to anxiety, stress and the construction of an identity. If this stage is complicated for socially normative people, it is even more complex to navigate adolescence as a dissident adolescent.

Sexually dissident people may experience gender dysphoria at some point in their lives, an intense feeling of disconnection between the sexual body and the mental conception one has of it and gender. Normally, this happens during adolescence, due to being the time when the first sexual explorations and identity questions take place.

It is important to talk about these realities that often remain invisible because they do not represent the majority of people. That’s why, In this article we will try to give an informative vision about gender dysphoria in adolescentswith the main objective of shedding light on this topic and generating knowledge and awareness.

What is gender dysphoria?

Dissent refers to differentiation from the norm, to the living of experiences that do not correspond to social and normative stereotypes about what is expected of each person and their role in society. In this way, sexual dissidence refers, for example, to an experience of sexuality and gender in a different way than the normative one; the heterosexual and cisgender.

In this sense, before understanding gender dysphoria framed exclusively during adolescence, it is important to define and delimit what gender dysphoria is. Gender dysphoria is a term used to describe the situation that people who feel an incongruence between their gender identity and the sex assigned at birth.

Reviewing these concepts, gender identity refers to the way in which a person perceives themselves as a man, woman, or some other gender outside of the binary spectrum. The sex assigned at birth is based on biological characteristics such as genitals, chromosomes and hormones, among others.

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People who experience gender dysphoria may experience significant discomfort or distress from this discrepancy, having difficulty finding explanations for their feelings and not finding a place to fit in in society. This affects mental health, emotional well-being and social functioning and it is important to know about these realities in order to provide responses that meet the emotional and support needs of these people.

Gender dysphoria can manifest from childhood or emerge later in life. Some people with gender dysphoria may choose to undergo a transition process, which involves aligning their gender expression with their gender identity through social, legal, and/or medical changes. These changes may include using a different name and pronouns, changing dress and appearance, accessing hormonal and/or surgical treatments, and changing legal documents. However, not all people with gender dysphoria want or need to transition, nor are all transitions created equal.

Controversially, gender dysphoria is classified as a disorder in the DSM-5 and ICD-11 diagnostic manuals. These manuals facilitate access to medical care and appropriate treatment for people with gender dysphoria. However, Some groups and organizations criticize the pathologization of gender diversity and they demand the recognition and respect of dissident identities without the need for a medical diagnosis.

Factors and causes of gender dysphoria

Understanding gender dysphoria in adolescents involves exploring a series of factors that may contribute to its appearance. While research in this field is constantly evolving, a combination of biological, genetic, environmental and social factors have been proposed that could influence how an individual’s gender identity develops.

1. Biological and genetic factors

Firstly, possible biological and genetic factors have been suggested. Studies have examined differences in brain structure and hormones during development to understand how these may influence gender identity. However, it is important to note that biological factors are not absolute determinants and not all adolescents with gender dysphoria experience significant biological changes.

2. Social and cultural factors

In addition to biological factors, the social and cultural environment plays a crucial role in the formation of gender identity. Gender expectations embedded in society They can put pressure on adolescents to conform to traditional binary norms. This can result in a disconnect between internal gender identity and external expectations, contributing to the onset of dysphoria.

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3. Environmental factors

Adolescents can also be influenced by their family and educational environment. Support or lack of support in these environments can play a critical role in how adolescents perceive and experience their gender identity. Rejection or lack of understanding from family and friends can increase stress and distress of a teenager already struggling with dysphoria. Additionally, exposure to gender models in the media and society can also have an impact. Pressure to conform to traditional gender roles can influence adolescents’ self-perception and ability to authentically express their gender identity.

How does it manifest itself during adolescence?

Gender dysphoria is especially challenging during adolescence mainly due to the body changes and developments characteristic of puberty. A greater evolution of the sexual organs, the growth of the breasts, the appearance of pubic hair… When you do not identify with the sex assigned at birth and every day you have to see a body that you do not feel represents you and that increasingly evolves towards where you do not want it to evolve can be terrifying and generate a lot of anxiety and stress that degenerates over time into more serious psychological and emotional disorders.

Gender dysphoria sometimes generates in people who experience it a strong desire to get rid of these genitals or sexual characteristics developed during puberty, or to try to prevent the development of these characteristics through hormones or other techniques. Furthermore, this is sometimes experienced at the same time as the desire to have the genitals and sexual characteristics of the gender with which the person identifies. In a way that is foreign to the body, people who experience gender dysphoria also often have the need to be treated with another gender.asking that references to she/him/her be through the use of specific pronouns.

It is important to note that not all people experience gender dysphoria in the same way. Not all gender dissident people have the need to change their body or begin hormonal and transition processes. It is important to listen to and understand each other and know that every way of experiencing and living our sexuality and gender is valid, as long as it is not based on self-destruction and punishment. Gender dysphoria can be very confusing and painful, but as a result of it, the possibility of generating a relationship with ourselves and our identity built on solid and secure foundations is generated.

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The importance of having support

Addressing gender dysphoria in adolescence requires a comprehensive approach that includes emotional support, understanding, and appropriate treatment options. For adolescents struggling with the disconnection between their gender identity and their assigned sex, it is essential to have access to an environment where they can safely explore their identity and receive the necessary support. Emotional support from family, friends and community is essential.

Adolescents who feel supported by those around them are more likely to face challenges with greater resilience. It is crucial that adults around adolescents educate themselves about gender dysphoria to provide an environment free of judgment and full of understanding.

Gender therapy is a valuable treatment option. Specialized therapists can help teens explore their gender identity, manage stress and anxiety, and develop coping skills. Additionally, therapy can provide a safe space to express emotions and concerns, which can be especially beneficial during adolescence. In some cases, adolescents may opt for medical treatments to align their body with their gender identity. Under the supervision of health professionals, these treatments may include hormone therapy and, in rare cases, gender affirmation surgery. These options should be carefully evaluated and discussed in depth with the medical team and legal guardians.

In summary, appropriate support and treatment are essential to help adolescents with gender dysphoria navigate this period of their lives. Providing an environment of acceptance, education and understanding can make a big difference to their emotional and mental well-being. By continuing to promote an inclusive society that respects the diversity of gender identities, we can contribute to a more equitable and empathetic future for all adolescents. In the next section, we will explore the challenges and obstacles that transgender teens may face in their search for authenticity.