Gender dysphoria describes the distress experienced by those whose gender identity feels at odds with aspects of their body and/or the social gender role assigned to them at birth. This can be experienced as physical discomfort, and psychological and emotional distress. Social factors are often key in the experience of gender dysphoria.
Gender dysphoria can motivate some people to seek to transition from one point on the gender spectrum to another, changing social role and outward presentation and sometimes taking hormones or having gender-related surgery. It is important to note that not all gender diverse people experience gender dysphoria.
We see a diversity of people at the GIC, with a variety of gender identities. Some people experience themselves as male or female, others experience themselves as gender neutral, gender queer, non-binary, androgynous, neutrois or otherwise gender variant.
Some of those we see fit the diagnostic criteria for gender dysphoria as used in psychiatric diagnostic manuals, however addressing gender dysphoria clinically is not solely dependent upon diagnosis, and there are a variety of ways we support people with gender dysphoria.
Several sets of guidelines have been published nationally and internationally, with the objective of providing a structured, standardised framework for assessing and managing gender problems. We refer to the ‘Interim Gender Dysphoria Protocol and Service Guideline 2013/14’ and ‘The Royal College of Psychiatry Good Practice Guidelines for the Assessment and Treatment of Adults with Gender Dysphoria 2013’, adapted as necessary, for use within the UK’s National Health Service and tailored, with clinical judgement to the individual situation.
The majority of appointments for patients will be with gender specialist clinicians who may have a background in psychology or psychiatry, although we don’t view gender identity issues as “mental illness”.