The Difference Between Gender dysphoria and Body Dysmorphia

The Difference Between Gender dysphoria and Body Dysmorphia

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Gender Dysphoria and Body Dysmorphic Disorder (Body Dysmorphia) are psychological conditions and terms that are often placed in conjunction with one another; while both are important and hard conditions to deal with, they are very different. The usage of these terms accompanies other errors often in the differentiation between sex and gender. Since these psychological phenomena are so prevalent in literature and the media, in order to understand those with gender dysphoria and body dysmorphia, we must look at the differences between the definitions of the two.

Gender dysphoria:

Gender dysphoria (GD), with the suffix phoria: is a condition in which there is a conflict between a person’s physical gender and the gender he or she identifies with. The mismatch between someone’s sex and gender identity can lead to distressing and uncomfortable feelings called “dysphoria.” When a child or adolescent experiences dysphoria, they often have feelings of dissatisfaction and anxiety, because they feel that they are essentially “stuck in the wrong body.”

However, not all transgender people suffer from feelings of dysphoria. These patients are identified as gender non-conforming. To better understand those with gender non-conformity/gender dysphoria, these individuals do not wish to be the opposite gender, they believe and insist, that they are in fact that gender.

While Gender dysphoria itself is not a mental illness, many transgender people do suffer from anxiety, depression, and/or eating disorders. Sometimes this is a direct result of the way trans people are treated in daily life; in other cases, these situations are the mind’s way of dealing with gender dysphoria prior to coming out or transitioning. Those who have GD and experience having feelings of dysphoria, do not necessarily have issues with the way they feel about their actual body image.  

Body dysmorphia:

Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD) or Body dysmorphia with the suffix morphia, a disorder involving the belief that an aspect of one’s appearance is defective and worthy of being hidden or fixed. This belief manifests in thoughts that many times are pervasive and intrusive.

Simply, those who suffer from body dysmorphia suffer a disconnect between their perception of reality and actual reality. They look in an ordinary mirror, but for them, the result is something like what we might experience when looking in a funhouse mirror. There is an inability to recognize the body for what it is. Features seem distorted, and flaws (real or imagined) are perceived as much worse than they actually are.

It is important to note, that for those who suffer from a mental condition or psychological disorder, having other disorders at the same time is common. Those with body dysmorphia have a distorted view of how they look, while those with gender dysphoria suffer no distortion. They have feelings of anxiety and depression, as they truly know who they are on the inside, despite this not fitting with their biological sex. While gender dysphoria and body dysmorphic disorders are very different, it is possible to suffer from both at the same time. 

If you suffer from Gender dysphoria or have any questions regarding Gender dysphoria or Body dysmorphia, call Endocrine Kids at (248) 347-3344 to request an appointment with Dr. Bishop.