Dr. Eunice Avilés
Doctor of Clinical Psychology, Gender Specialist, and AASECT Certified Sex Therapist
What is gender identity?-what is this?
To understand what gender identity is, it is important to comprehend the definition of other terms:
Makes reference to the sex assigned at birth according to biological aspects such as the chromosomes, the reproductive system, and genitalia (penis and vagina).
Makes reference to the physical (sexual preference) and emotional attraction. It is experienced through the person’s gender identity, not according to their biological sex. This term is frequently confused with the term gender identity.
A social classification that indicates that there are only two genders: male and female.
Regardless of the biological sex assigned at birth, this is the internal concept that an individual has about their gender (about being a man, woman, or any other identity).
Individuals whose gender identity (female, male or any other gender identity) differs from the gender that was assigned to them at birth (according to their biological sex). In this case, the concept that the person has about their gender identity is not congruent with their body.
In Puerto Rico and other countries, some individuals identify with the term transsexual instead of transgender.
Individuals whose gender identity differs from the one that was assigned to them at birth. These individuals do not identify as male or female and their identity can be more fluid within the female-male spectrum. Genderqueer is another term used to refer to a gender non-binary person.
Gender dysphoria is the emotional anguish experienced by individuals whose gender identity is not congruent with their biological sex (with their body). For example, individuals that perceive themselves as female, but that are socially perceived as male due to their biological sex, might experience emotional pain (ex. sadness, anxiety) since their bodies do not reflect the perception that they have of themselves.
According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (5th ed.) developed by the American Psychiatric Association (2013) (DSM-5), gender dysphoria is the incongruence between one’s experienced/expressed gender and assigned gender. This condition is associated with clinically significant distress or impairment in social, school, occupational, or other important areas of functioning.
Although the diagnosis of gender dysphoria is included in the book of psychiatric diagnosis, it is not a psychiatric disorder and must be addressed from different angles (For example, psychological and medical treatment, social changes, etc.).
An individual who experiences gender dysphoria may benefit from the process of psychological therapy (gender therapy) to:
• Explore, confirm, and/or accept their gender identity
• Communicate their gender identity to their family, loved ones, employer, etc.
• Manage the reactions that come from the people around them due to their gender identity and gender expression
Gender specialists provide crucial evaluation and treatment services to individuals experiencing gender dysphoria and seeking to obtain medical treatments to make their bodies congruent with their gender identity.
Medical treatments for gender dysphoria include, but are not limited to:
• Cross-gender hormone therapy (estrogen or testosterone)
• Breast augmentation or removal (chest wall reconstruction surgery/bilateral mastectomy)
• Facial feminization surgery (FFS)
• Gender confirmation surgery (genital surgery/”bottom surgery”)