Psychological distress may occur when someone’s gender doesn’t match the sex they were given at birth. Calmerry sheds light on how gender identity affects mental health.
Gender Identity and Mental Health
While gender has been traditionally divided into two categories (male and female), there is a wide range of gender identities today. You, for example, could identify with a gender that’s different from the sex you were given at birth. This may include identifying a female despite being assigned male at birth or vice versa, as well as recognizing yourself somewhere between male and female or another gender.
It is normal to question or not to have a label of your gender identity as you figure yourself out. However, as you explore this, your preoccupation about your gender may negatively affect your mental and physical health. Calmerry gender therapy can provide the support and guidance to better understand your experiences and feelings about gender identity.
What is gender identity?
Gender identity refers to the way you describe or experience your own gender. It mainly focuses on an individual’s view of oneself instead of their attraction to others. You, for instance, might say that you’re a man, woman, non-binary, transgender, or something different. You personally decide on your gender identity based on the way you want others to treat or refer to you.
A Guide to Gender Identity Terms from National Public Radio or NPR defines it as a person’s “own internal sense of self and their gender, whether that is man, woman, neither or both”. Gender identity, according to the Human Rights Campaign, can be similar or different from an individual’s sex assigned at birth. There is also a range of gender identities that a person can identify with (besides just a man or woman).
Some words people use when discussing about gender identity include:
- Cis/cisgender – an individual who identifies with the same sex they were assigned at birth.
- Transgender – is an umbrella term for someone whose gender is different from the sex they were assigned at birth.
- Non-binary/genderqueer – is an umbrella term for gender identities that fall outside of the gender binary; they may identify with both or neither genders and may also use the term gender fluid to identify themselves.
- Agender – is someone who does not identify with any specific gender; they are also described as genderless, neutral gender, or gender-free.
- Gender diverse – is a person who identifies (or expresses their gender) with a gender or genders aside from male or female.
- Gender pronouns – are noun substitutes a person chooses and uses to describe someone’s gender, such as he/him, she/her, they/them, and others.
Gender is not the same as sex, which is based on physical characteristics, including hormones, organs, chromosomes, etc. Sex is the identity assigned to you at birth, also called birth sex or natal sex. It is mostly based on your external anatomy, not your internal sense of self.
Gender identity vs gender expression vs sexual orientation
Gender identity is often conflated with gender expression and sexual orientation, but these are completely different constructs. Below is a brief definition of these two terms.
- Gender expression – is how a person expresses their gender through behavior, body language, clothing, hair, voice, and other aspects. It can also reflect an individual’s gender identity, but not always.
- Sexual orientation – refers to a person’s physical, emotional, or romantic attraction to others. Just like gender identity, it is an internal, deeply held knowledge that determines whether an individual is attracted to men, women, both, or neither.
It is worth noting that gender identity is not rigid; it can change over time. It takes time to understand yours and it is not uncommon to change the way you express or define your own gender identity. The decision is always yours and whatever you feel is best for you. You can also consider Calmerry gender therapy to support you through your journey and reduce the effects of mental health challenges.
How gender identity affects mental health
It is always possible for people who don’t identify with the gender they were assigned at birth to lead fulfilling or meaningful lives. Lack of acceptance and understanding, as well as transphobia and discrimination, however, can put these individuals at an increased risk of anxiety, depression, suicide, and other mental health issues.
You might be at an increased risk of developing mental health issues if you:
- Feel different from your peers or those around you.
- Are treated differently because of your gender identity (discrimination).
- Experience bullying because of your gender identity.
- Are deeply concerned that your loved ones, friends, and other people will not accept or support your gender identity.
- Feel pressured to name or deny your feelings about your own gender identity.
- Feel anxious about the pressure to conform with the sex you were given at birth.
If you have been experiencing negative or difficult things related to gender identity for quite some time now, you may be able to notice their impact on your mental health. Some of the things you may want to watch out for include changes in:
- Mood – you feel sadder, irritable, or more anxious than before.
- Behavior – you become quieter or more reserved, less talkative, or more aggressive.
- Thinking or thoughts – you focus more on negative things or have thoughts about self-harm or suicide.
- Sleep patterns – you sleep less or more than usual, or are experiencing sleeping difficulties.
- Appetite – you eat less or more than normal or are experiencing weight gain or loss without intending to do so.
- Personal relationships – you are having more disagreements with your peers, family members, or partner.
There is also gender dysphoria, which, according to the American Psychiatric Association, is a psychological distress caused by an incongruence between a person’s sex assigned at birth and their gender identity. It is not a mental illness, but some individuals may develop or experience a mental health condition because of gender dysphoria.
One example is someone being born with the physical traits or reproductive organs of a male but identifying as a female. It simply means that the sex they were given at birth is not compatible with the gender they identify with. Symptoms of gender dysphoria include:
- Negative self-image
- Feeling that your gender identity conflicts with your birth sex
- Strong desire to be or be treated as another gender
- Strong dislike of your sexual anatomy or genital of your birth sex
- Desire to change your sex characteristics (remove, enhance, or change physical parts)
How can online therapy help with gender identity-related challenges?
It is normal to experience some gender identity-related issues occasionally, but if it’s negatively affecting your life and you find it difficult to cope, it is time to get help. Online LGBT counseling or Calmerry gender therapy offers expert guidance and support as you explore your gender identity or navigate associated issues.
Calmerry can help you explore your true self and help you cope better with challenges through:
- Mental health care from counselors trained in LGBT+ issues – Calmerry has affirming therapists who are trained to work with LGBTQIA+ clients. They will work closely and collaboratively with you to set goals, deal with your issues, and improve your mood, health, or quality of life.
- 100% safe virtual environment – The platform allows you to talk about whatever you’re dealing with without any judgment. We do this by matching you with a licensed therapist who values empathy and treats people with respect and dignity regardless of their gender identity or sexual orientation.
- Addressing various mental health issues – If you’re experiencing distress or mental health issues related to your gender, the therapists at Calmerry offer different types of therapy and personalized treatment plans. Some of the issues they can help address include:
- Gender identity
- Self-confidence and self-esteem
- Gender transitioning
- Coming out
- Relationship difficulties
- Discrimination related to homophobia
- Depression and anxiety
- Mood disorders
- Plans for every budget – One of Calmerry’s goals is to make online counseling affordable and accessible. This is why they offer different subscription plans that suit different needs and budgets. Fees start at $50 a week for text-based therapy. There is also free therapist switching, which means that they will match you with another counselor without charging you anything.
Whether you seek gender therapy or a professional with experience working with the LGBT community, Calmerry can help. With a mental healthcare provider who genuinely understands and respects you, you can greatly benefit from the transformative power of therapy, guiding you through self-discovery and healing.
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