This Singaporean Psychiatrist Helps Patients With Gender Dysphoria

Gender dysphoria can be a severely difficult mental condition to overcome. It is a confusing experience for many patients who may wrestle with a core facet of their beings, their very identities (often for long periods of time). Fortunately, they don’t have to feel alone. There are medical professionals around the world that can help guide patients through gender dysphoria and help improve their overall quality of life.

Dr Tsoi Wing Foo is a psychiatrist in Singapore and has 58 years of experience in the field. He focuses largely on transgender management for patients with potential symptoms of gender dysphoria. He has responded to many questions on DoctorxDentist regarding the topic. Here's what he had to share.

What is gender dysphoria?

man icon with a shadow of a woman

It’s a condition that can be described as a patient's emotional and psychological discomfort with his or her sexual identity. Typically, a patient feels that there is a mismatch between his or her gender identity and biological sex. [1]

It is not the same as gender nonconformity

Psychiatrists don't often consider gender nonconformity to be the same thing as gender dysphoria. Gender nonconformity is not classified as a mental disorder in and of itself but rather as an expression or ideology on the part of an individual that does not match gender norms. With gender dysphoria, the critical element is the presence of clinically significant distress associated with the condition. [2]

What causes gender dysphoria?

illustration of genetic influences of gender dysphoria

The causes of gender dysphoria are still largely unknown. Genes, hormonal influences in the womb and environmental factors are all suspected as being involved. It may also be the result of rare conditions like congenital adrenal hyperplasia (CAH), in which a high level of male hormones are produced in a female fetus. [3]

How can parents manage gender dysphoria in children?

daughter whispering to mum

Parents must allow the child to talk about his or her feelings regarding gender preferences. Replies must be based on what the child feels and says. If parents aren't able to answer questions, professional help will be needed. [4]

Children must be older before undergoing transition

Children should grow older and be very certain that they have irreversible gender dysphoria before they consider undergoing transition. Psychiatric help should also be available during this process, in order to ensure that the child is indeed suffering from gender dysphoria and not a mere phase. [5]

In some instances, treatment is possible 

If gender dysphoria in a patient is mild, treatment with counselling is possible. Doctors and psychiatrists will have to be involved in providing a full evaluation before proceeding with any options. [6]

Mild dysphoria may be temporary

In some cases, gender dysphoria can be very mild and it is possible for the condition to only be temporary. This is why time should be taken in order to conduct a proper evaluation of each patient and identify the level of dysphoria that is being experienced. [7]

 

 

Gender dysphoria can be a challenging condition to manage and as such, patients should consider cooperating with the professional help that is available. A psychiatrist can help properly evaluate underlying problems and offer advice before patients proceed with any treatments.

 

 

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References:

1. Davy Z, Toze M.What Is Gender Dysphoria? A Critical Systematic Narrative Review. Transgender Health. 2018;3(1):159-169. doi:10.1089/trgh.2018.0014

2. Roberts AL, Rosario M, Corliss HL, Koenen KC, Austin SB.Childhood Gender Nonconformity: A Risk Indicator for Childhood Abuse and Posttraumatic Stress in Youth. PEDIATRICS. 2012;129(3):410-417. doi:10.1542/peds.2011-1804

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