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Gender Identity Disorder to Gender Dysphoria

Updated on June 18, 2014

In the newest edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), the term “gender identity disorder” was replaced with the term “gender dysphoria.” Why was this change implemented? What impact does this change have on treatment? Do you agree or disagree with the change in terminology? Why or why not?

Gender dysphoria according to our textbook is a “distress that may accompany the incongruence between a person's experienced or expressed gender and that person's assigned gender” (Whitbourne, 2013, p. 280). The term “gender identity disorder” was replaced with the term “gender dysphoria” because of the negative feeling associated with the word disorder. The term changed because many of the people diagnosed with gender identity disorder did not, in fact, have a disorder because while they wanted to have a body of the opposite gender they did not experience any feelings of sadness or depression. The fact that the term was changed does not have a huge impact on treatment; the change comes from being able to separate the people who experience negative feeling towards their gender from people who desire to be a different gender without any negative feelings. The way the person feels towards their body may alter the type of treatment the clinician recommends in terms of therapy. I honestly do not feel one way or another about the change in terminology I have never had contact, to the best of my knowledge, with a person with gender dysphoria. I believe people who have gender dysphoria would agree with the change in terminology as they would not appreciate being labeled as having a disorder simply because they wish to be a different gender.


Whitbourne, S. K. (2013). Abnormal psychology: clinical perspectives on psychological disorders (7th ed.).New York, NY: McGraw-Hill Higher Education.


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