Steph's Place

Gender Dysphoria is just a symptom..

By Co-Editor Claire

....of Something Else!

 This is another one of those annoying, hyperbolic claims made by trans hostile activists to attempt to appropriate and minimise the impacts of Gender Dysphoria, and to try and delegitimise trans identities. 

Why does it work? Because people want it to be true.

But, I know it’s garbage. You know it’s garbage. Can we prove it’s garbage?

Like all trans hostile false claims, I think we can show that pretty easily.


What is Gender Dysphoria?

 Before we delve into this, you may need to know what Gender Dysphoria actually is.

The American Psychiatric Association describe it as ‘psychological distress that results from an incongruence between one’s sex assigned at birth and one’s gender identity.’

The British Psychological Society ‘Guidelines for psychologists working with gender, sexuality and relationship diversity’ do not mention it at all.

 It's a term that’s considered pathologising and stigmatising, being a medical diagnosis that was previously classified under the mental health category in the International Classification of Diseases. It was replaced with ‘Gender Incongruence’ and moved in 2019 to the sexual health category in the ICD-11, and is decribed as ‘a marked and persistent incongruence between an individual’s experienced gender and the assigned sex. Gender variant behaviour and preferences alone are not a basis for assigning the diagnoses in this group.’


 So, what we actually have here is a baseline which clearly shows that Gender Dysphoria is a symptom of Gender Incongruence, and it’s a symptom because not all gender incongruent people experience distress.


In other words, you cannot have Gender Dysphoria without Gender Incongruence.


And the diagnostic criteria for Gender Dysphoria are pretty clear:

To be diagnosed with gender dysphoria as a teenager or adult, you must have experienced significant distress for at least six months due to at least two of the following:

  • marked incongruence between your experienced and expressed gender and your primary or secondary sex characteristics

  • strong desire to be rid of your primary or secondary sex characteristics

  • strong desire for the primary or secondary sex characteristics of the other gender

  • strong desire to be of the other gender

  • strong desire to be treated as the other gender

  • strong conviction that you have the typical feelings and reactions of the other gender


Ok, so now we have a baseline, let's look at the trans hostile claims that Gender Dysphoria is a symptom of something, literally anything else.


The Search Begins

 Let's look at the ICD-11 again. The ICD is used by medical professionals worldwide, and is the international standard - so surely if the claim is true we would find evidence of it here.

The ICD search tool is really useful, like a web search it will bring up every instance of a term and whatever classification it appears in.

When we search the ICD-11 for ‘Gender Dysphoria’ it brings up three instances, HA6Z, HA60 & HA61 - all related to Gender Incongruence.

Even if we switch to the advanced search and use some of the qualifiers to expand it - the same three results for Gender Dysphoria are returned.

It does not return any instances of being mentioned as a symptom or being related to any other listing in the ICD.  Not one.


Let's do a comparison with something we know can be associated with multiple conditions.

A search on ‘Anxiety’ returns the maximum of 50 instances on the tool, with many more unreturned as the search is too broad, and lists many, many conditions where Anxiety is a factor - but not one mention of Gender Dysphoria.


Initial Conclusion: Gender Dysphoria is not listed, nor considered as a symptom of, or related to any other condition or issue by the world wide medical community, as defined in their own classification guide.


What about elsewhere?

 Let's look at the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM–5) from the American Psychological Association.

 There’s no search tool here because psychiatrists don't like to be challenged on their pet theories unless you pay for useless reference books, so we are limited somewhat by what appears on the website. Probably a paper there somewhere about being overeducated and having a superiority complex.

 However, a search for ‘Gender Dysphoria’ brings up 1077 instances - most of them articles about transgender people, opposition to transgender people and such. The few instances I found of gender dysphoria being returned in a result not related to incongruence (ie in Eating Disorders, or Trauma) were due to a sidebar link on the page returned, but not once did I find a single instance of dysphoria referenced as a symptom of or related to a different condition or issue in any of the 1077 returned results.

 Indeed, even the APA’s own Expert Q&A page on Gender Dysphoria fails to reference even a single instance of gender dysphoria being listed as a symptom of, or related to a different condition or issue.


And neither does the British Psychological Society, Royal College of Psychiatrists or the NHS.


You would think we might have found something by now, wouldn't you?


OK, let's try looking a bit further afield.

 A common claim made by trans hostile activists is that gender dysphoria is a common symptom of sexual abuse or trauma, so I tried a Google search on ‘symptoms of sexual abuse’ and ‘symptoms of trauma’

Unsurprisingly, not a single instance in the first 6 pages returned that lists Gender Dysphoria as a symptom of these. So I added ‘+gender dysphoria’ to the search.


Finally some returns!


 However - the vast majority were relating to experiences of trauma by people who are transgender, or already diagnosed with dysphoria, not dysphoria as a symptom of a different condition. The very few returns that were positive correlations were all from trans hostile groups, organisations or individuals - in effect those making the claim in the first place, so these are easily discarded.

 But, out of a morbid sense of curiosity I took a look at a couple of these, and as expected there was not a single credible reference or source to back up the claim - just deliberate misreading and misinterpretations of other conditions in order to try and create a tenuous link where none exist.


The only conclusion we can come to based on the actual available evidence is:

Gender Dysphoria is not a symptom of any other condition or issue. Not one single reputable medical organisation lists, describes nor attributes it as such. Not one. 


So those who claim Gender Dysphoria is a symptom of a different condition are lying.


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