Gender dysphoria, the feeling of not belonging to your assigned gender or dissatisfaction with the gender assigned at birth, is a topic usually ignored in Pakistan. Gender dysphoria was previously known with the name Gender Identity Disorder but after the research that it is not a mental disorder the name was changed to reflect that. In gender dysphoria, a person feels extreme repulsion to the gender assigned to them at the time of birth. An apparently healthy man feels like he is a woman trapped in a man’s body and likewise a woman feels trapped in a man’s body.
Sometimes, it is also called transsexualism which is an outdated term because it is rather offensive. Hence, “gender non-conforming”, a neutral word, is usually used for it.
In Pakistan, Gender dysphoria is a topic generally pushed under the rug and there is a huge negative connotation attached to it. Due to which, people with gender dysphoria stay closeted and suffer alone throughout their life. But, it is an alarming situation that needs to be addressed. People go to different extremes to cope with it. Society does not accept this mentality; the government does not concentrate on this situation as much. But, our attitude towards this should be very positive. The cure is not about changing the mindset, in fact, it is about dealing with the psychological issues that come with it.
To avoid being insensitive, we should see the symptoms at the right time. This is how different age groups show signs of gender dysphoria.
Childhood is a very tender age. A child does not rationalize his or her actions; they react to their intuitions. That is the best time to identify the symptoms of gender dysphoria. A child with gender dysphoria will show the following habits or signs in childhood.
1. He or she will befriend those sex of people with which they feel affiliated.
2. Not preferring the toys or clothes of the respective gender
3. Trying to get rid of their genitals
4. Having a high opinion about themselves of being a girl even if he is a boy and vice versa
5. Having a strong belief about becoming a man even if she is a female as a child.
A person gets confused and suppressed in this phase of their life. All their lives they have accumulated resentment, disapproval, and rejection about themselves which had made them depressed and sometimes suicidal. Following are the symptoms that should be considered before passing a judgment and mentally scaring the other person.
1. Extreme dissatisfaction with the body changes in adolescence.
2. Do not acknowledge genitals in any way because the person is disgusted by it.
3. Urge to change their physical self to their mental gender.
4. Cross-dressing, dressing like the opposite sex.
The problem is not the thought of gender; it is the psychological torment that comes with it. In Pakistan, due to lack of discussion around this topic, people are not aware of how to react to a person dealing with such a situation. People with gender dysphoria are mocked, ridiculed and are cornered in personal and professional lives. There needs to be a constant discussion around this topic, so that, we as a society, can help the people facing this issue in their lives.
How gender dysphoria leads to other severe mental and health issues
Gender dysphoria comes with a baggage of illnesses which stalls the progress of an individual and lowers his/her self-esteem. Let’s have a look at some of the effects of this issue.
Anxiety in simple words is nervousness and stress. The uneasy feeling while thinking about something with unknown outcomes is anxiety. Gender dysphoria can lead to anxiety.
Depression means to be hopeless. Depression makes you feel sad and helpless. People with gender dysphoria have severe depression issues.
Some people when uncomfortable find peace and solace in food. Many people with gender dysphoria follow the same pattern, become obese and show lack of interest in working on their physical appearance.
4. Suicidal thoughts
Gender Dysphoria makes a person extremely disappointed with life. Since, the person feels trapped inside his/her own body. The easy way out of this situation appears to be suicide for many people, which, in fact, is not the solution. Therefore, it is advised to instantly initiate a conversation with psychiatrist.
How can it be treated?
The psychologist or psychiatrist should be available to speak about the issue and make the person feel comfortable. The main aim is to show understanding, which lacked all their life. A doctor is capable of handling a situation with proper protocol. Do not act on people’s opinions, consult a doctor for a proper remedy.