Sexual Health Q&A

Transgender Health
What is gender dysphoria?

Gender dysphoria refers to a situation in which people do not feel comfortable with their birth gender and identify as the opposite. They may feel that they were born in the “wrong” gender and wish to transition from one to the other.

The word transgender is often used to describe people with gender dysphoria. A transgender man is a person who is born female but identifies as male. Conversely, a transgender woman is a person born male, but identifies as female.

Many transgender people start feeling a gender mismatch in childhood. For others, their identity becomes clearer as they become adults.

Treatment for gender dysphoria varies depending on a person’s age and personal situation. Many people start by living as the opposite gender. For example, a person born male may decide to start using a woman’s name, wearing women’s clothes, and using female pronouns. For some transgender individuals, living as the opposite gender is enough to make them feel secure with their gender identity.

Others decide to undergo a physical transition. This may start with cross-sex hormone therapy, which involves taking hormones to suppress characteristics of the birth gender and promote the development of the desired gender’s physical traits.

For example, transmen take the male sex hormone testosterone. Doing so can stop menstrual periods and start the formation of facial hair and a more masculine build.

Transwomen take a combination of hormones that usually decrease amounts of facial and body hair. They might start to develop breasts as well.

After spending some time living as their desired gender and undergoing hormone therapy, some transgender people decide that gender reassignment surgery is their next step. 

For transmen, surgery typically entails the removal of beasts and female reproductive organs and the creation of a penis and scrotum.

Transwomen have their penis and testes removed. From there, a vagina, clitoris, and labia can be created. They might also have surgery to make their faces look more feminine.

Transgender people can face many challenges, including the following:

  • Coping with the undesired physical aspects of their birth gender
  • Adjusting to physical changes during hormone therapy and surgical transitions
  • Social stigma and discrimination
  • Violence
  • Access to healthcare providers who specialize in transgender health
  • Financial difficulties due to treatment costs
  • Depression and anxiety
  • Fertility and family planning

It is important to have an established healthcare team that is experienced in helping patients with gender dysphoria. Many people with gender dysphoria benefit from counseling and peer support as they make decisions about their identity. Peers can also help each other find appropriate resources.

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