Gender dysphoria - Definition 

Defining gender dysphoria 

Gender dysphoria is a condition in which a person feels there is a mis-match between their biological sex and their gender identity.

Biological sex means the sex that you were born with. It is determined by the presence of sex organs. These are:

  • the testes in males
  • the ovaries in females

Gender identity is your personal sense of which gender you belong to. For example, if a person sees themselves as female, then their gender identity is female.

For most people, their biological sex and gender identity are the same. However, some people experience a mis-match between them, and this is called gender dysphoria.

Gender dysphoria is a recognised medical condition. It can be a complex condition, and it affects different people in different ways. It is not a mental illness.

Gender dysphoria has no bearing on a person’s sexuality. Just like anyone else, a person with gender dysphoria may be hetrosexual, homosexual, or bisexual.

Cross-dressers (Transvestites)

Some people choose to occasionally dress as members of the ‘opposite’ sex, while not choosing to live full-time as a member of that sex. These people can be called cross-dressers, or transvestites.

Some cross dressing is associated with sexual arousal, and this kind of cross dressing can be called tranvestism. For other people, cross dressing is not associated with sexual arousal, and this can be called dual-role transvestism.

Transssexual people

Transsexual people or trans people have strong and long-lasting feelings of gender dysphoria.

Trannssexual people can be biological males who gender identify as females, or biological females who gender identify as males. Some transsexual people do not gender identify as either male or female, but feel they are both, or somewhere in between.

Many transsexual people seek to change their biological sex using hormone treatment and surgery. This is often known as “transitioning”.

A person who seeks to undergo, is undergoing or has undergone transition may be known as:

  • a trans man (female to male)
  • a trans woman (male to female)

Page last reviewed: 21/05/2012

Next review due: 21/05/2014


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The 8 comments posted are personal views. Any information they give has not been checked and may not be accurate.

Maygencd said on 28 September 2013

I have this gender disphoria as since my earliest memories even tho I was born with a male body I have always had very strong convictions that i am a female. I just do not feel right unless I am totally dressed, looking, being a female
Your info on this has been helpful for me to better understand my situation I would like much more info on this though

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classiclady said on 01 April 2013

I have been a transvestite all my life and when I was young I thought I was a freak. I later thought that on getting married the need to dress as a woman would disappear but it didn't and the urge to dress became even stronger. I subsequently told my wife who was at first upset but later fully accepted my need to dress and be a woman. I'm lucky in that I can pass in public and also project a credible female voice, something many transvestites find difficult or even impossible and I've also had facial electrolysis. I love being what I am and enjoy my life to the full as a part-time woman and do most things women do with no hang-ups or guilt feelings whatsoever. But I also enjoy being a bloke and doing bloke things - reassignment surgery has never been of any interest to me.

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ABC345D said on 11 June 2012

I crossdressed into my early 20'S. I had to stop. People messed with me badly after that, now I'm middleaged, a virgin and feel sick at the thought of the opposite sex. My chosen option is to ask.

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ahuman said on 10 May 2012

I'd go with the saying it's a mental disorder, or at least a mental choice, even in the early childhood, our bodies growing and shaping is a natural reaction to our brain's orders and here how orientation comes out as a result in many types or terms, either in the gender identity or the role, the brain as per our choice manipulate which hormones and which body shape we desire, although we pretend to deny it remains our pure choice, a regression treatment would take us back to the deep hole in our history in which we have made this kind of choice.

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Amie Marie Attridge said on 24 June 2011

It is slighty worrying to me that a body as such as the Nhs could have someone write such a badly imformed, put together artitcal such as the above, i think the person who wrote this should of really spoken to Gires or The Gender trust before posting on this site. all i hope is the person who wrote the above information does not work for any of the Gender reconistion clinics.

I am certainly not confused, i have always known I'm female. i was born with an unfortunale disfigurement, that of a male body. I do not wear female clothing to feel female either as I am a female regardless of what i wear. as the saying goes the person makes the clothes not the clothes the person.

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User499861 said on 16 December 2010

This article is seriously reinforcing misguided stereotypes on Gender Identity being Male or Female. Sex is binary, Gender is not. Gender is a spectrum, there are people who feel that they are neither gender, and there are people who feel they are both, and everything in between. We are not all "Male to Female" or "Female to Male".

You also miss that you can be Transgendered without wanting a medical transition, whilst it still being more than just dressing different.

Also the paragraph about Transvestites is just disgusting and wrong and extremely offensive (the all of one sentence that doesn't apply to all Trans types). Who wrote this article? You should probably scrap it and start from scratch.

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Susan Collier said on 04 November 2010

This is a really badly written piece.
It implies that Gender Dysphoria (GD) is the cause of both "conditions". Gender Dysphoria is specific to Transexuals.
It states Transexuals "seek to alter their sex" when it should say "They MAY seek to alter their sex".
It also states "gender dysphoria has no bearing on a person’s sexuality" in the paragraph relating specifically to Transvestites, when this applies to both groups.

I'm not keen on the use of the word "confusion".

The last paragraph implies that someone with GD may prefer to wear womens clothes. If you have GD it is more than a preference and it is not just about the clothes!

Susan Collier

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annie D said on 21 October 2010

I agree with the first part of your statement but I have to disagree with the next statement. Most Transvestites cannot do anything about the urge to be female. This urge comes in various stages from a full time need to be female right through to the man who just wants to be female in private i. e. wearing clothes of the female gender at home. For a transvestite such as myself I feel I fit in the middle of this spectrum and are therefore upset with your generalisation that it's all about fantsizing. I would say most transvestites urges to be female are very strong but not strong enough to require the need to go down the reassignment route. I like many other transvestites don't fantasize about being female we need to be female. This need can sometimes rule our lives and we can do nothing about that need. This need can sometimes be very destructive. Speaking for myself I do get depressed if for whatever reason I cannot excercise my need to be female, I certainly don't fantasize about it. I need to be female as and when that need arises. I cannot just fantasize about being female I have to be female.

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