It’s well understood that an individual’s adolescence and teenage years can be a challenging time. A young person goes through numerous physical, emotional, and social changes during this time in their lives as they begin to figure out and articulate who they are. While there are numerous issues facing parents, caregivers, and adolescents themselves, one issue that has become more prominent is gender dysphoria (what was once termed gender identity disorder but is now no longer used by healthcare professionals). Now no longer thought of or treated as a disorder, gender dysphoria refers to the psychological and emotional distress a teen or adolescent undergoes due to discovering and asserting their gender identity. At Destination for Teens, we understand the variety of mental health issues confronting teens and adolescents. Thus, we craft unique approaches to meet those needs.
What is Gender Dysphoria?
While we all long to feel comfortable in our own skin, it’s harder for those who feel stress or discontent with the sex and gender dictated to them at birth. When adolescents confront this arbitrary designation, they often experience gender dysphoria. While not a disorder or condition, gender dysphoria is used to cover the various kinds of distress an individual experiences to do attempting to determine their own gender identity.
It’s important adolescents, caregivers, and parents understand that gender identity is not the same as gender expression or sexual orientation. As individuals attempt to navigate these distinctions, they can experience internal and external stressors causing them more than mere confusion. Individuals can develop depressive disorders or anxiety disorders due to gender dysphoria and, in turn, turn to unhealthy coping mechanisms like substance use.
How do I identify Gender Dysphoria?
Individuals experiencing gender dysphoria express a need for affirmation of their gender identity. This can take several forms, such as legal, medical, and surgical affirmations. As adolescents, parents and caregivers have the ultimate decision making power in these areas for individuals who are under age. Thus, it’s vital parents and caregivers educate themselves on the options available so they have a complete understanding of how to support an adolescent dealing with gender dysphoria.
Perhaps the most common form of affirmation is social. This involves asserting one’s preferred pronouns, such as the name they identify as theirs (rather than the name that misgenders them that they may have been given at birth). Some common pronouns individuals may use include:
What is important here is to ask the individual what pronouns they prefer and use them.
Gender Dysphoria Treatment at Destinations for Teens
Understandably, some parents and caregivers may have concerns with how a teen is dressing or acting. If a teen feels uncomfortable with the gender assigned to them, they need support to find their proper gender identity. It’s important not to add further stress or pressures to how a teen or adolescent should perform or conform to gender roles. Families must learn to foster a teen’s expression of themselves, which is why structured family therapy is often such a beneficial route. In these situations, they need to feel love and acceptance within their family and circle of friends.
Our gender dysphoria treatment program at Destinations for Teens works to help teens and adolescents identify and overcome any anxiety or depression that may arise due to their struggle with discovering their gender identity. We offer a holistic treatment program where teens will feel valued, cared for, and safe. Some of our therapeutic programs include:
These and other therapeutic approaches help teens come to terms with their gender identity and discover healthy coping mechanisms for dealing with emotional, psychological, and social issues that arise because of gender dysphoria. Contact us today at 877.466.0620.