Gender Identity & Dysphoria Disorder Treatment for Teens and Young Adults

Person experiencing gender identity disorder
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Person experiencing gender identity disorder

How are gender identity issues & gender dysphoria diagnosed?

Gender dysphoria is typically diagnosed through a clinical evaluation by a mental health or healthcare professional. This involves assessing a person’s experiences and feelings related to their gender identity, including any distress or discomfort associated with their gender assigned at birth. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) outlines the complete diagnostic criteria. Diagnosis of gender dysphoria is not meant to pathologize being transgender but to make it easier for people to get the healthcare and support they need, like hormone therapy or gender-affirming surgery.

How does Charlie Health treat gender dysphoria?

At Charlie Health, we work with our clients experiencing gender dysphoria using multimodal approaches that include recognition, psychological support, and affirmation.

Supportive groups and affirming clinicians allow space for clients with shared lived experiences to share stories, receive support, and pursue healing in the context of a supportive community.

Virtual treatment can bring members of gender-diverse communities the opportunities to connect across distance and can be helpful for clients experiencing significant secondary anxiety, depression, or other conditions that make accessing brick-and-mortar treatment tough.

Zoom filters, pronoun affirmation, avatars, and the possibility of turning the camera off on a bad day are all ways that our clients experiencing dysphoria say that virtual treatment shines.

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What are the best options for gender dysphoria treatment?

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) can help those with gender dysphoria address negative thoughts and beliefs about their gender, reduce anxiety and depression, and learn healthy coping strategies. In the treatment of gender dysphoria, CBT can help people change self-critical thoughts, address gender-related fears, and build resilience against societal and self-imposed gender pressures. CBT can improve mental well-being, help people develop a more positive relationship with gender identity, and make transitioning, if desired, easier.

Gender-affirming therapy

Gender-affirming therapy is designed to support people with gender dysphoria in their gender identity exploration and transition. It supports a person’s true gender identity, helps them develop coping skills, and enables them to make informed choices about medical treatments like hormone therapy or gender-affirming surgeries. This therapy also offers a safe place to discuss challenges and discrimination faced by transgender and gender-diverse people, improving mental well-being and their connection with their gender identity.

Family therapy

When someone has gender dysphoria, family therapy creates a safe space for family members to provide emotional support and learn about gender diversity. By involving the family, therapy can reduce stress and isolation for transgender and gender-diverse people, making their home environment more supportive. It also helps families navigate the challenges of the person’s gender transition and promotes healthier, more inclusive relationships, which can significantly improve the person’s well-being.

Other related areas of care may include


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Meet your peers in groups and your primary therapist in as little as 24 hours

FAQs for Gender Identity & Dysphoria

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What are the main types of gender dysphoria?

The DSM-5 defines three main types of gender dysphoria:

  1. Gender dysphoria in children
  2. Gender dysphoria in adolescents and adults
  3. Gender dysphoria not otherwise specified

The first two diagnoses categorize gender dysphoria by age. The third category encompasses various experiences of gender dysphoria that don’t fit neatly into the above two categories.

What are the main symptoms of gender dysphoria?

The main symptoms of gender dysphoria are ongoing feelings of distress or discomfort with

  • One’s gender as assigned at birth
  • One’s body (specifically primary/secondary sex characteristics)
  • One’s expected gender roles

These symptoms can cause emotional distress, anxiety, and depression and affect a person’s ability to function in the world, highlighting the importance of providing gender-affirming care and support to those experiencing gender dysphoria.

How common is gender dysphoria?

According to the DSM-5, gender dysphoria is diagnosed in 0.005–0.014% of people assigned male at birth and 0.002–0.003% of people assigned female at birth worldwide. However, the prevalence of gender dysphoria varies between different groups, and it’s not easy to pinpoint due to underreporting and differences in diagnosis. As society becomes more aware and accepting of gender diversity, more people are getting diagnosed and receiving the care and support they need.

What causes gender dysphoria?

Being transgender or having gender dysphoria isn’t a choice; it’s a fundamental part of who a person is. The causes of gender dysphoria aren’t completely clear but are likely a mix of genetics, hormones, and environment.

Can anyone have gender dysphoria?

Yes. Anyone can have gender dysphoria, though it most commonly affects transgender and gender-diverse people. Those who don’t experience a mismatch between their gender assigned at birth and gender identity won’t be diagnosed with gender dysphoria.

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