What is Transgender Body Dysmorphia?

What is Transgender Body Dysmorphia?

Illustration of a person with a heart-shaped hole in their chest.

We certainly know more about the plight of transgender people than we did a few decades ago. Still, there is so much to learn. Maybe you’re unsure about a few things yourself.

Today we’re going to look specifically at the topic of transgender dysmorphia.

If you or a loved one struggle to identify with your assigned gender, this might be a helpful read.

The Unique Struggles of a Transgender Person

Before we dive in, let’s take a moment to garner some understanding.

Imagine that you are born female. Your mother puts you in dresses and tops your head with a bow. You are encouraged to play with dolls, speak in a ladylike way, and carry yourself with grace.

But all you really want to do is dig in the dirt, roughhouse with your brothers and have some fun. Maybe you’re transgender, but odds are you’re just a tomboy. Your interests don’t match society’s expectations.

This represents a relatively typical experience for some young children.

But what if you see yourself in the mirror, with a dress and a bow, and as you grow, you begin to understand what’s underneath, and you begin to experience confusion, shame, and discomfort regarding your body? This may be a sign of gender dysphoria. (1) Your identity doesn’t match society’s expectations.

You can probably also imagine what it must be like to grow up in that body. The one thing you cannot shake. To be confronted each and every day with the clear and obvious sign that things do not feel right.

How to Know If You Have Gender Dysphoria

So how do you know if what you’re experiencing represents something akin to being a tomboy or a boy with traditionally-female interests or being transgender?

The DSM-5 defines gender dysphoria as including at least two scenarios from the list below:

  • A clear difference between the gender you experience and the one that is assigned
  • A strong desire to avoid gender-specific experiences related to puberty or sex
  • A strong desire to take on the gender-specific experiences of the other gender
  • A strong desire to be any gender other than the one assigned at birth
  • A strong desire to be treated like any gender other than the one assigned at birth
  • A strong sense that you experience life through the lens of the other gender (2)

A person with confirmed gender dysmorphia will have experienced these scenarios for at least six months and suffer great distress because of them.

The Connection Between Gender Dysphoria and Body Dysmorphia

 In addition to gender dysphoria, some transgender people also experience body dysmorphia. Body dysmorphia, especially when combined with gender dysphoria, can result in an eating disorder. To help you sort out the difference between the two, you can think about it like this:

Gender dysphoria says, “The body I was given does not feel like it belongs to me.”

Body dysmorphia says, “The body I was given is severely flawed.”

You can see how the two could work separately or in conjunction. And you can probably also see how the two working together could lead to an eating disorder, where a person attempts to control what they can in an effort to achieve what they feel is a better body.

Both of these situations cause a great deal of anxiety for the person experiencing them. If you or someone you love could use support for gender dysphoria or body dysmorphia, please give us a call today at 562-434-6007.




  1. https://www.allianceforeatingdisorders.com/gender-dysphoria-body-dysmorphia/
  2. https://psychiatry.org/patients-families/gender-dysphoria/what-is-gender-dysphoria