So what is Gender Dysphoria and why does it cause mental health issues?

Published April 19, 2015 by Katier Scott

I really wish I could have come up with a better title for this post, but really when it boils down to it, that’s what this post comes down to.

In my opinion Suicide is probably the saddest event anyone may witness, hear of or read in the news, during your life, it ‘should’ be preventable as when the reasons behind a suicide are learnt, there are often things that simply shouldn’t have happened, or help that should have been available.

I think it’s fair to say that a large number of the Roller Derby Community were hit hard by the loss of a young 15 year old skater who was also gender dysphoric a couple of weeks ago. We don’t know exactly why Casper felt he couldn’t go on, but in all likely hood his Gender Dysphoria was at the root of the problem.

The sad thing is that this is true of the majority of teen and young adults who take their own lives, and often the reasons are a lot clearer and in the cases of all of these suicides I firmly believe we need to look and try to learn why they might have happened and raise awareness of the causes.

Over the past few days 100’s of people world wide have skated in bouts, scrims and practices wearing teal or torquoise – the colour of suicide awareness – and the fact there is such a consolidated level of support means, hopefully, there is a consolidated wish to learn about why people like Casper take their own lives.

As I said earlier Gender Dysphoria is a root cause of many of these suicides as a person comes to term with the fact their brains gender doesn’t match their physical gender they seek to live as their ‘mental’ gender, by wearing clothes of that gender ( in my case my mental gender being female means I present as one) and living as that gender, then undergoing treatment.

Unfortunately not all people are as fortunate with their support as I have been and found they feel they simply can’t transition, or cope with the pressures and stresses of it. As I said earlier, it’s not clear why Casper felt he couldn’t go on, however the important legacy is that he has raised awareness of suicide amongst Gender Dysphoric people, and hopefully the Derby Community (and anyone else reading this blog) can understand and learn about Gender Dysphoria and take that information and use it to educate when they see prejudice, misinformation or bullying (Casper wasn’t bullied, but it definitely happens), but also support anyone in their league, or circle of friends, who are Gender Dysphoric in a more understanding manner.

I’ll start this little bit of education (wow all those words and the learnings only just starting!!) with some terms.

You’ll notice I’ve mentioned Gender Dysphoria, but haven’t once, till now, mentioned Trans, Transgender etc. The reason for that is that the medical condition that we have is called Gender Dysphoria (or Gender Identity Disorder – both are the same) and it is the fact we are suffering from a distinct medical condition that seperates us from transvestites, crossdressers etc.

There are so many ‘trans’ terms it’s easy to get confused however I will mention them here so you know what they mean.

Transgender – this term is heavily overused, it’s the ‘umbrella’ term for all ‘trans’ and as such covers those suffering from Gender Dysphoria all the way through to cross dresses, transvestites etc.

Transexual – this term is effectively the original term to cover those who are Gender Dysphoric. Personally I feel it’s outdated and we should use Gender Dysphoria or GID, however to call someone like Casper ‘Transexual’ is 100% correct.

Transvestite – Basically cross dressers who dress in public, drag queens are the extreme example of this technically Tom Boys are also TV’s although they don’t generally see themselves under the Transgender umbrella.

Cross Dresser – Someone who wholey, or partially, dresses as the other gender, often just inside their own homes or in a fetish or sexual setting.

So as you can see it’s easy for those who are un-educated or mis-informed can get terms, conditions, and meanings confused. The fact is, however, that unlike most of the Transgender terms, those who are Gender Dysphoric do NOT do it by choice.

Some people, especially those like Casper, who realise they are Gender Dysphoric during, or before, pubity, have a very strong feeling they are in the wrong body. It’s clearly a confusing time for them and incredibly tough for the parents, most of them are un-informed and, especially in the younger people (under 10) it’s often pushed aside as a ‘fad’. For those who are pre-pubescent my advice would be to go with the flow, give your child the chance to find themselves. If they want to live as the other gender, let them, and if they do indeed (as may happen) grow out of it, then it’s all good. But if they are truly GD then pushing them into the the wrong gender can push them all the way into suicide.

Leelah Alcorn is a sadly good example of these, her parents were heavily religious and believed that God only made men and women. Without wishing to get heavily into the subject of Religion the fact that many mammals, including humans, can be born intersexed (which is automatically a form of GID/GD) shows how narrowminded that belief is. Leelah’s parents tried to ‘fix’ her through religion and ultimately, at the age of 17, she deliberately walked in front of a Lorry on 28th December 2014.

Older people may have felt the same but not realised that they were GD, so they just coped, often try to live a ‘normal’ life, but learn about Gender Dysphoria and realise what they truly are. In my case I made a terrible bloke, never really felt comfortable as a man, but when I got the chance to take the female role it felt totally natural – and I’ve not looked back.

So hopefully that’s given you a basic understanding of the kinds of problems we face, and what the different terms mean.

Further reading about what causes GID and the treatment we undergo can be found from a number of sources (including this blog) however the UK’s National Health Service have a great starting point.

NHS Gender Dysphoria Pages

That information can be found at…/Gender-dysphoria/Pages/Causes.aspx


2 comments on “So what is Gender Dysphoria and why does it cause mental health issues?

  • I have been very lucky with support as well, but one doesn’t have to look far, or even to America, to find all too many examples of people who haven’t, and I am dreading what the election might bring. 😦 Hard to imagine any coalition with UKIP will be a staunch supporter of LGBT rights…

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