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Year : 2022  |  Volume : 8  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 4-11

Gender dysphoria in adults: Concept, critique, and controversies

Department of Psychiatry, Jawaharlal Institute of Postgraduate Medical Education and Research, Puducherry, India

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Vikas Menon
Department of Psychiatry, Jawaharlal Institute of Postgraduate Medical Education and Research, Puducherry - 605 006
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/jcrsm.jcrsm_33_22

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Gender dysphoria (GD) is a condition where one feels distressed about one's assigned gender at birth. The construct has undergone successive revisions in understanding and terminology in contemporary classificatory systems. Currently, the terms “GD” and “gender incongruence” are used in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders-5 and International Classification of Diseases-11, respectively. However, there continues to be a lack of clarity on terminologies used in describing related concepts. Sex is an inflexible categorical concept, whereas gender is a social construct. It is vital to understand and distinguish between sexual orientation and gender identity. Clarity in understanding and usage of these and other related terms in the field is central to addressing the issue of stigma faced by the members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, asexual+ (LGBTQIA+) community, an umbrella term used to denote individuals with nonconformative gender identity and orientation. Several clinical and ethical issues exist with diagnosing and managing GD such as optimal treatment of minors, fertility after gender affirming treatments, and dissatisfaction following gender reassignment. To clarify these issues and facilitate access to care for LGBTQIA+ individuals, the GD category has been retained in the classificatory systems despite activists calling for dropping the term from diagnostic manuals to minimize associated stigma. Other controversies in the area include inclusion of childhood GD diagnosis on the grounds of uncertainty of longitudinal trajectory of the clinical phenomenon and use of nonevidence-based, potentially harmful, treatments such as “conversion therapies.” There is a need to sensitize clinicians about these issues and mainstream them in the assessment and management of GD. Such an approach would aid development of culturally sensitive and evidence-based treatments for gender variance.

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