Gender dysphoria is a phenomenon wherein an individual – often a child – will feel a strong sense that they are in the wrong body. This is often considered to be a kind of conflict between their ‘biological sex’ and their ‘gender identity’.
In a world that is becoming increasingly more sensitive to a wide range of lifestyle choices, this can be a confusing time for both those experiencing dysphoria, as well as the parents and loved ones of those people.
There are countless questions to consider with regards to dysphoria. Is this a biological drive or is it a learned one? Is it potentially a ‘phase’ that will pass, or something that is deeply personal to that individual?
Is there more than one type of dysphoria?
At what age – if any – should a sex change operation be considered? Should children be free to choose their gender while they are still too young to make other key decisions? How about puberty blockers?
And should we treat this as a mental health disorder such as body dysmorphia or as a free choice for any individual to make? The answer to that latter point, of course, can only be answered by the individual and how they feel about what is happening to them.
The other questions are more complicated. But the first order of the day is of course to identify the symptoms. You’ll find those below.
1 Choice of Toys
One of the earliest signs of gender dysphoria is a refusal to play with ‘gender assigned toys’. That might mean that a little boy insists on playing with dolls, or that a little girl insists that she play with action figures.
This is, of course, a highly more complex issue, however. For one, many little boys like to play with dolls and this doesn’t have any bearing on their gender identity. Similarly, many little girls enjoy trucks, diggers, and robots!
What’s more, is that these preferences might have been artificially constructed, to begin with. Do boys play with robots because they prefer robots, or because they have seen other boys playing with them on TV?
And with increased sensitivity to this issue, we now also see more and more parents choosing to raise their children in a ‘gender fluid’ manner. That means that they don’t force their children to pick one or the other, but rather give them a selection of both.