Gender Dysphoria is a new name for what used to be called Gender Identity Disorder, according to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5)*. Individuals who are diagnosed with Gender Dysphoria think they are a different sex than what they were born as. According to the DSM-5, the individual is steadfast and persistent of his belief that he is the opposite gender.

Identifying the differences in gender and its behavior begins in the early stages of childhood.

When children grow older, they make friends and are involved in activities and events with others who are the same sex. The DSM-5 has separated the criteria for children and does not regard or treat individuals as psychologically abnormal or unhealthy if they don’t conform to their gender as children. In addition, it is no longer a requirement that children have a strong desire to live as the gender that they identify with, and the reason for this is that children, in many instances, don’t feel at ease in showing their desire.

*The DSM-5 is published by the American Psychiatric Association.

Criteria for Gender Dysphoria in Children DSM-5 302.6 F64.2

The DSM-5 has certain criteria for Gender Dysphoria in children. The child will have a significant incompatibility with the gender he identifies with and the gender he was born with, and it lasts a minimum of six months. When a child exhibits a minimum of six of the criteria below, which must include the first item, he is diagnosed with Gender Dysphoria.

  • An intense want to be the opposite gender or persistence that he is the opposite gender (or a different gender other than the one he was born as).
  • Boys who were born as males have a prevalence toward cross-dressing or wearing clothing that is seemingly more feminine. Girls who were born as females prefer dressing in what would be considered men’s clothing and are powerfully opposed to dressing in regular female apparel.
  • When it comes to creative play or making up games, the child has the desire to be in the other gender’s role.
  • The child would rather play with the toys or be included in the activities that are usually deemed appropriate for the opposite sex.
  • He chooses to play with children of the opposite sex.
  • Boys will refuse to play with toys that are considered those that are usual for boys. Girls will rebuff games and toys that are generally meant for females.
  • The child will have an intense dismay with the sexual parts of his body.
  • He wants the primary/secondary sex features that are equal to the experienced gender.
  • The child has extreme anxiety and stress, as well as problems with functioning in social circles, school and other situations.

Statistics About Gender Dysphoria in Children DSM-5 302.6 F64.2

According to the DSM-5, the rate of Gender Dysphoria is between two and four and one-half times more in boys than in girls.

“There’s no question that people are seeing more kids than have ever been seen before,” says Norman Spack, M.D., an endocrinologist at Boston Children’s Hospital. Spack has treated transgender individuals for the last two decades.

Gender Management Clinic in San Diego, Calif., showed that the amount of new patients has risen by 200 percent just in the years 2012 and 2013—or from eight patients to 26 in just a few years. A Toronto clinic has witnessed an increase of 600 percent in new adolescent patients just since the millennium. At a clinic in England, there were nearly 80 new children in the last year. That number shot up from only about 20 in 2009.

It’s not certain how many children have Gender Dysphoria, although the estimates of it in adults show that it is not a common condition. Experts think the disorder hasn’t just suddenly become more widespread, but the rise in numbers is because more clinics for gender management are making treatment available to children. Prior to medical assistance, young people relied on themselves for transitioning.

Is There Treatment for Gender Dysphoria in Children DSM-5 302.6 F64.2?

The stress that is felt by children with Gender Dysphoria are mostly sociological. People still see people who are transgender as not normal. Children may experience an extreme amount of anxiety as they try to deal with their gender identity, as well as being left out of groups or being bullied. Because of being bullied, shunned and ignored by others because of the Gender Dysphoria, there is an increased risk for depression and substance abuse.

There are several treatment options for children who are diagnosed with Gender Dysphoria. Family therapy can help to educate all members of the family about what it is and the feelings the child experiences. With a greater understanding between members of the family, the child may not feel as alone.

In individual therapy, the child may feel it is a safe and secure environment to be able to talk about his feelings comfortably. He may be able to describe how he feels about his desires to wear the clothes, have the anatomy and play with the toys of the opposite gender without the fear of being judged.

Group therapy with the parents may be an ideal way for the child to have contact with other children who have the same behaviors and feelings that he does. It may also help for him to know that he isn’t isolated in his situation and that others understand his stresses and anxiousness when dealing in social situations, in relationships with friends, and during activities in school. In addition, the parents can find the support they need and can’t find elsewhere in the community from each other. They may feel comfort in sharing their own feelings. They may also help each other to cope with the struggles their children are undergoing that are related to the condition.

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