Gender Dysphoria

A spotlight on social dysphoria

· LGBTQI,Transgender Awareness Week,dysphoria

It is heart-warming to witness the global celebration of Transgender Awareness Week 2023, the genuine outpourings of support so far this week has prompting me to delve into an often less appreciated facet of transgender experiences: social dysphoria.

Social dysphoria is the distress felt by transgender and genderexpansive individuals when their gender identity is ignored or dismissed in social interactions. It may arise as a result of a variety of verbal and non-verbal communications but in this piece I will focus on two particularly insidious presentations.

Living in Bangkok, often considered a relatively safe space for transgender and gender expansive individuals, I am often confronted with social situations in which well-intentioned individuals unknowingly dismiss the profound impact of misusing pronouns and deadnaming on my transgender and non-binary friends.

Beyond merely acknowledging the distress caused by physical incongruence, it is crucial that we recognize the immense harm that can arise from repeated misgendering and deadnaming.

Being made to feel socially rejected, isolated and shamed canlead to a range of mental health issues such as depression and anxiety, as well as triggering intrusive suicidal thoughts with potentially severe consequences.

Gender dysphoria caused by feeling socially incongruent can be as significant in the daily lives of transgender and non-binary individuals as body dysphoria and, for many, even more so. We know from many studies how high rates of mental health issues and suicide are amongst the transgender population and social dysphoria is a significant contributor.

We are living in a time of growing acceptance of the importance of pronouns: consider how many work emails you now receive with helpfully placed “he/him”, “she/her” or “they/them” pronouns in the signature block compared to say 3 years ago!

Taking this issue seriously in social contexts is profoundly important if we are to move forward in establishing a diverse and inclusive global society. Let’s turn that automatically generated signature block into a genuine conscious awareness and be true allies to our transgender, non-binary and gender expansive friends.