Treatment for gender dysphoria
In some countries, such as the USA, it is seen as acceptable to treat children with hormone suppressants if psychological tests show that their gender dysphoria is likely to continue after puberty. The aim of this treatment is to prevent any further physical development that will confuse the child’s preferred gender. However this treatment is controversial and is not permitted in the UK.
Once a person has finished puberty, they have a range of options open to them, depending on how strongly they feel about their gender dysphoria. Specialist Gender Dysphoria Clinics can offer a wide range of practical advice to help someone live in the gender role they have chosen, and for many people, this is sufficient. Others choose to take hormones to enhance the physical characteristics of their chosen gender, such as growing breasts and reducing body hair, or bulking up muscles and deepening their voice.
For many people with gender dysphoria, however, the preferred solution is to have their biological gender reassigned through surgery. These people are called transsexuals and they will change both physically and legally to the opposite gender.
Gender dysphoria and the law
In December 2002, the UK government published a statement stating that transexualism is not a mental illness. Furthermore, international human rights legislation states that a person’s gender identity is not a medical condition and should not be suppressed.
In UK law, the Gender Recognition Act of 2004 allows people with gender dysphoria and transsexuals to marry as their preferred gender, and also obtain passports and birth certificates stating the gender of their choice.
Gender dysphoria and sexuality
Contrary to popular prejudice, gender dysphoria has no bearing on sexuality, and people with the condition may be heterosexual, homosexual or bisexual, just as the rest of the population. However, it is possible that hormone treatments and transgender surgery may cause changes to the sexual orientation of the person affected, making this an extremely complex condition to both live with and to help manage.