Therapy aims to find an expression of gender that feels most genuine and authentic for the client, given their own socio-cultural and geographic contexts. During this exploration process, therapists often assist clients in developing social connections and finding community.
What is Gender Identity?
Gender identity refers to a person's internal sense of self and gender, which might be male, female, neither, or both. People can identify as more masculine, more feminine, a mix of the two, or none at all. It is a person's choice how they express or describe their gender.
What’s the Difference Between Sex and Gender?
Sex refers to a person's biological identification as a male or female at birth, which is determined by their hormones, chromosomes, and genitals.
Gender identity isn't about genetics; it's about our internal sense and awareness of our gender in relation to the social and cultural connotations and roles we've been exposed to as children.
What are the Different Types of Gender Identity?
Different types of gender identities are:
- Agender: A person who is agender does not identify with a specific gender or has no gender at all. They are also known as null-gender or neutral gender.
- Androgyne: A person who identifies as an androgyne has both masculine and feminine traits or a gender that is halfway between the two.
- Bigender: A bigender is a person who identifies as having two genders and frequently exhibits cultural masculine and feminine roles.
- Butch: This phrase is commonly used by women, particularly lesbians, to describe how they display masculinity or what society deems as masculinity.
- Cisgender: A cisgender individual identifies with their biological sex or the gender to which they were born.
- Genderfluid: A person who identifies as genderfluid has a gender identity and presentation that does not fit squarely into any one category but fluctuates outside of society's gender standards.
- Gender Outlaw: A gender outlaw is someone who refuses to be defined by society's definitions of "male" and "female."
- Polygender and Pangender: People who identify as polygender or pangender have traits of various genders and exhibit them.
- Omnigender: A person who identifies as an omnigender has traits of all genders and experiences them all.
- Genderqueer: Genderqueer people have a gender identity or expression that is different from what society expects for their assigned sex or assumed gender.
- Masculine of Center: The individual who identifies with this type of gender identity is usually a lesbian or trans woman who tends towards masculine gender experiences and performances.
- Nonbinary: A person who identifies as nonbinary has gender identities outside of the male and female gender binary.
- Transgender: This is an umbrella term for everyone who experiences and identifies with a gender other than their assigned gender at birth. Although most people associate transgender with trans men and trans women, the term also refers to persons who identify as a gender other than man or woman, such as nonbinary and genderfluid individuals.
What is Gender Dysphoria?
Transgender people and anyone whose gender does not match the gender they were assigned at birth may experience gender dysphoria, also known as gender incongruence. It is dissatisfaction or a sense of unease caused by the mismatch between their gender identity and the gender assigned to them at birth. Some persons may acquire mental health issues as a result of their gender dysphoria discomfort, but gender dysphoria is not a mental health disorder in and of itself.
Therapy for Gender Dysphoria Related Mental Health Issues
A mental health professional can help evaluate dysphoric feelings and emotions, the impact of stigma attached to gender non-conformity on your mental health, and use diagnostic criteria listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) to establish a diagnosis. Psychotherapy can help gender non-confirming individuals fully explore and integrate gender identity issues, deal with related stress and anxiety, build a support network, and increase the quality of life.