Signs of gender dysphoria

People with gender dysphoria may have changed their appearance, their behaviour or their interests.

They may also show signs of discomfort or distress, including:

  • low self-esteem
  • becoming withdrawn or socially isolated
  • depression or anxiety
  • taking unnecessary risks
  • neglecting themselves

Read more about the signs of gender dysphoria.

Children and gender identity

Children may show an interest in clothes or toys that society tells us are more often associated with the opposite gender. They may be unhappy with their physical sex characteristics.

However, this type of behaviour is reasonably common in childhood and is part of growing up. It does not mean that all children behaving this way have gender dysphoria or other gender identity issues.

A small number of children may feel lasting and severe distress, which gets worse as they get older. This often happens around puberty, when young people might feel that their physical appearance does not match their gender identity.

This feeling can continue into adulthood with some people having a strong desire to change parts of their physical appearance, such as facial hair or breasts.

Find out more information if you think your child might have gender dysphoria.

Treatment for gender dysphoria

After a detailed assessment to confirm the diagnosis of gender dysphoria and what it means for you, the GDC team will work with you on an agreed treatment plan.

If you are assessed as not having gender dysphoria, the GDC may recommend other forms of support to your GP.

Treatments provided by the GDC are intended to provide lasting relief from gender dysphoria. This can mean different things to different people.

For some people, treatment may just involve acceptance and affirmation or confirmation of their identity. For others, it may involve bigger changes, such as changes to their voice, hormone treatment or surgery.

Read more about treatments for gender dysphoria.

What causes gender dysphoria?

The exact cause of gender dysphoria is unclear.

Gender development is complex and there are still things that are not known or fully understood.

Gender dysphoria is not related to sexual orientation. People with gender dysphoria may identify as straight, gay, lesbian or bisexual.

How common is gender dysphoria?

No one really knows because not all people who have a sense of unease about their identity, or already identify as gender diverse, need or ask for support from the NHS.

The number of people being referred and diagnosed with the condition has increased a lot over the last decade. In 2018/19 around 8,000 people were referred to adult gender dysphoria services in England.