While it may seem that gender dysphoria is a relatively “new” condition, there is evidence that people have explored genders outside the traditional male-female binary for at least two thousand years. Gender is a complex issue which, while many people may not fully understand the ways gender can be experienced, has a profound impact on our lives.
Parents of teenagers who are experiencing gender dysphoria may be hesitant to allow their teen to make any “dramatic changes” to their lives.
However, according to a new study that was published in Sweden, “gender-affirming surgery appears to have improved the mental health of individuals diagnosed with gender incongruence.”
In this article, we will discuss the results of this groundbreaking study and the implications it may have for teens struggling with gender dysphoria in the 21st Century. While the treatment that is best for your teen will depend on many things that are very specific to them, understanding gender more broadly can help you guide your teen to make the right decisions.
What is Gender Dysphoria?
Gender dysphoria is a term used to describe individuals who feel discomfort caused by a “mismatch” between their gender and their sex. While sex is something that is biological (and usually determined at birth), gender is something that is entirely dependent on how a person chooses to identify.
While most people will have a gender and sex that are matching, others may identify as a gender that does not match their sex. In some situations, this will cause a great deal of discomfort that can make living an ordinary life much more difficult. When this is the case, additional treatments may be needed.
What is Affirmation Surgery?
Affirmation surgery is a procedure that involves physically changing a person’s body in a way that helps diminish the mismatch between gender and sex. While their chromosomes will not be altered, the physical and chemical make up of their body can be changed in a way that makes an individual more comfortable in the body that they are in.
There are many types of affirmation surgery available, each with varying degrees of intensity. According to the Swedish study featured above, these procedures can help reduce the likelihood of developing some mental health issues (such as depression) and can potentially increase their quality of life.
Is Affirmation Surgery Right for My Teen?
There is no universally right answer to this question. In fact, the treatment option that makes the most sense for your teen (or for anyone, for that matter) will depend on many different factors. Before pursuing any treatment routes, it will be crucial to meet with a teen psychiatrist who is familiar with gender dysphoria, gender identity, and other related issues. Once they are able to fully evaluate your teen over time, they will be able to make specific recommendations.
It is also important to note that not all gender affirmation treatments are necessarily permanent. Hormone blockers and puberty blockers, for example, can be reduced or removed if your teen’s gender experience changes in the future. While there are some permanent procedures actively in use, these procedures are usually reserved for adulthood and are very rarely used on teens.
Conclusion – Gender Dysphoria
Gender can be a very confusing topic and gender dysphoria can create many complicated issues for teens. While there is still a considerable amount of research that needs to be completed, the study released in Sweden suggests that affirmation therapy can produce statistically significant positive outcomes.