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Gender Dysphoria

Condition Basics

What is gender dysphoria?

Dysphoria means feeling distressed or uneasy. Gender dysphoria is a feeling of emotional distress because your inner sense of your gender (gender identity) doesn't match the sex that you were assigned at birth.

For transgender people, their gender identity doesn't align with the sex that they were assigned at birth. Non-binary people identify outside of the gender binary (man or woman). For non-binary people, their gender identity may be between gender categories, may shift, or may include multiple genders. Many, but not all, transgender and non-binary people have gender dysphoria.

What are the symptoms?

Symptoms of gender dysphoria may include feeling:

  • Uncomfortable or upset about parts of your body that don't match your gender identity.
  • Anxious or depressed.
  • Stressed.

If you're openly transgender or non-binary, you may feel extra stress because of discrimination in the community. If you're not openly transgender or non-binary, you may have stress from hiding who you really are. Rejection, prejudice, and fear can cause long-term stress.

How is it diagnosed?

Gender dysphoria may be diagnosed when you talk with your doctor about feeling upset or distressed that your gender identity isn't the same as your sex assigned at birth. Children with gender dysphoria may have similar feelings as adults, including feeling upset about parts of their body that don't match their gender identity.

How is gender dysphoria treated?

Usually, gender dysphoria is treated by helping someone affirm their gender identity through finding ways to express it.

The types of things that help someone express their gender can vary from person to person. They can also be different for children and young people than for adults.

Non-medical options for expressing gender identity may include:

  • Clothing, hairstyles, or makeup.
  • Voice therapy or coaching.
  • Hair removal.
  • Breast binding or padding.
  • Penis tucking or packing.
  • Name and gender marker corrections on official documents.
  • Counselling.

Medical options may include:

  • Gender-affirming hormones.
  • Puberty-blocking medicines.
  • Gender-affirming surgeries.

  • Your doctor.
  • Your school counsellor or a trusted teacher.
  • A therapist or other counsellor.
  • Websites and online organizations. You can find a list of such organizations at, the website for PFLAG Canada.
  • How can you support someone with gender dysphoria?

    Many, but not all, transgender and non-binary people have gender dysphoria. It may take time to adjust when you learn that someone you care about has gender dysphoria. But even if you're adjusting, there are things you can do to help the person who has this condition.

    • Show unconditional love and support.

      Gender dysphoria can cause great distress. Feeling loved, supported, and accepted can help.

    • Respect the person's choices.
      • Ask which pronouns the person goes by ("he/him," "she/her," "they/them," "ze/zir"). Then use those pronouns.
      • If the person is changing their name, always use the new name when you talk to or about the person.
      • If you mess up and use the wrong pronoun or name, don't make a big deal out of it. Just correct yourself, and move on.
    • Be an advocate.
      • Step in and correct others who use the wrong pronoun or name so that the person you care about doesn't always have to do that work.
      • If you hear people saying unkind things about transgender people or making fun of them, speak up. Make it clear that you won't tolerate judgmental or bullying behaviour.
    • Learn all you can about gender identity.

      Organizations such as PFLAG can help. Go to their website at to find a list of other useful groups. Or visit for information from Alberta Health Services.


    Adaptation Date: 5/3/2022

    Adapted By: Alberta Health Services

    Adaptation Reviewed By: Alberta Health Services

    Adapted with permission from copyrighted materials from Healthwise, Incorporated (Healthwise). This information does not replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any warranty and is not responsible or liable for your use of this information. Your use of this information means that you agree to the Terms of Use. How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.