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Are Trans People More Likely to Experience Body Dysmorphia?


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Gender Dysphoria, defined on the NHS website as "a sense of unease that a person may have because of a mismatch between their biological sex and their gender identity" is something nearly all transgender individuals describe experiencing at some point in their lives. Left to fester, gender dysphoria can lead to various other mental disorders such as anxiety, depression, and have a general negative impact on a person's life.


Symptoms of Gender Dysphoria can usually be relieved with physical changes such as transitioning, or various other changes to the body. For example, somebody who is AFAB (assigned female at birth) who doesn't identify with having breasts can undergo top surgery (a procedure to remove breast tissue) and feel more comfortable in their body.


In contrast, Body Dysmorphia cannot be treated by physical alterations. Recognised as an anxiety disorder in the DSM-V, Body Dysmorphia is a condition that engenders distressing concerns and an excessive focus on an imagined flaw in one's physical appearance. People grappling with body dysmorphia develop a distorted perception of themselves. This disorder often leads to profound feelings of shame, both about their physical being and the perceived imperfections they believe exist in their appearance.


Do trans people still experience Body Dysmorphia?


As well as experiencing Gender Dysphoria before transitioning (or making other adjustments), trans people may experience Body Dysmorphia in tandem with Dysphoria. The two are linked: while they don't cause each other, a trans or non-binary person experiencing Gender Dysphoria might develop eating disorders such as Anorexia under pressures to look more feminine, or vice-versa.


Treating transgender people with Body Dysmorphia, which in turn has caused various other mental disorders associated with body image, therefore cannot exclude the context of a presence of Gender Dysphoria in the patient's life. Trans or non-binary people may be more prone to symptoms of Body Dysmorphia because of a disparity between their gender identity and body image, and in turn, be more likely to suffer from eating disorders or depression.

Treating transgender people with Body Dysmorphia, which in turn has caused various other mental disorders associated with body image, therefore cannot exclude the context of the presence of Gender Dysphoria in the patient's life.

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