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Transgender men and women face unique challenges. In addition to struggles with acceptance among family and friends, employment discrimination, and legislative battles, the transgender community faces mental health struggles.
Common mental health issues can impact a person’s ability to function on a daily basis while compounding the impacts of issues related to their personal and professional lives. The following are common mental health struggles that transgender men and women face. Understanding them helps you determine the best strategies for you or your loved ones.
Gender dysphoria is the dissatisfaction with one’s birth gender. It’s at the core of one’s decision to identify with or transition into a gender other than the one with which they were assigned at birth.Gender dysphoria influences a person’s decision to express their gender in a way that’s congruent with how they feel. But it can be the catalyst for secondary mental health issues such as anxiety or depression. Gender dysphoria can affect the ways in which a person relates to others, as social expectations can make it difficult for transgender people to fit into what others believe gender to be.
Depression is commonly seen in the transgender population. Psychological distress related to the stigmatization that many people feel can manifest as depressive symptoms. Depression can exist on many different levels. Although some individuals may be able to function on a day-to-day basis, others find it difficult to complete even the most basic tasks. There are many ways to address depression in the transgender population. Research has shown that the support of other transgender people can help minimize the effects of depression.
Feelings of anxiety can be overwhelming. For transgender men and women, anxiety can be a result of concerns about one’s appearance or ability to “pass” as a specific gender. Fears around disclosure to family, friends, and co-workers can increase feelings of anxiety. The decision to transition can be a difficult one to consider. And many people are concerned about undergoing surgical procedures or potential complications. Anxiety can be a result of ideas related to future romantic partnerships, employment, physical violence, and the legal aspects of changing one’s gender identity. Dissatisfaction with one’s physical appearance can be a significant source of anxiety for transgender people. Many worry excessively when out in public, which can affect their ability to socialize with others. These common mental health struggles highlight the many challenges that transgender men and women face. Identifying these issues early on and obtaining the proper support can help you or your loved one overcome them. Achieving mental health and wellness is a critical part of the transition process and empowers you to live life in a way that’s in line with your core beliefs and values.