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A Common Mismatch – Let’s Talk about Gender Dysphoria

Gender dysphoria can become a concern for someone when and if their gender identity continues to remain incongruent with their assigned sex. Gender identity, gender roles and stereotypes may often lead to discomfort and incoherence, especially at the onset of adolescence.

“Perhaps our greatest distinction as a species is our capacity, unique among animals, to make counter-evolutionary choices.” - Jared Diamond

Gender and Sex – The basics.

Let’s first understand the difference between ‘gender’ and ‘sex’. Gender is defined as the sociological attributes of an individual while ‘sex’ defines their biological attribute. Gender identity refers to the way in which a person perceives his/her gender. Adolescence is a period when teens explore their own gender and often associate with their assigned sex and the gender stereotypical behaviors.

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It’s NOT a Match and That’s Okay!

Gender Dysphoria is a concern which highlights the distress and discomfort caused when the gender of an individual doesn’t match with the assigned sex. For example, a girl might enjoy building blocks, playing football or wearing masculine clothes while a boy might enjoy cooking, fashion or other stereotyped female behaviors. What’s important here is to inculcate a mix of feminine and masculine traits which may lead to a healthy and well-groomed individual.

Gender Dysphoria can be considered a cause for concern if a person’s experienced /expressed gender and primary sex attributes don’t match for at least six months, has a strong need to detach from the primary sex characterastics, has a strong inclination towards the sex characteristics of the other gender, has a strong need to be treated as the other gender, and/or a strong desire of feelings and reactions associated with the other or an alternative gender.

If at least two of the aforementioned symptoms are recognized, and if they create impairment in the person’s functioning like social relationships, school or work life, then gender Dysphoria can be considered a possible concern.

It’s important to understand that even if you might feel some irregularity and uncertainty in this spectrum, it can be managed with therapy, gaining more knowledge and an open mind to learning and exploring more about oneself and others.

As adolescents begin to grow and develop, they also mature in the understanding of gender, gender identity and gender roles. A combination of both masculine and feminine attributes can be a nurturing personality rather than being completely rigid to an extreme pole of traits.

Rushing into finding a gender identity of oneself can be problematic as the adolescent enters adulthood. It’s necessary to remain patient and find your comfort. Gender identity can be influenced by families, cultures, hormones, peers, siblings, beliefs, values and everything that engulfs our life.

Discovering yourself is an ongoing process which can take time to reach a place of comfort and acceptance. Going through this journey is sacred and unique for each individual.

Note – Please do not treat this article as a diagnostic tool. It’s only for the purpose of sharing information about gender Dysphoria and related concerns.

 

 

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Dimensions of Teenage Sex

Adolescence is a period when teens begin to explore sexual urges and become curious about how, when, where, what , who and likewise. Sex is a combination of various dimensions which come together and provide for a basic need of a human being.

Sex is something which people don’t speak of very often these days. It’s still a hush-hush topic to be discussed publicly and openly. To defy that notion, let’s talk about sex today and address the basics. Adolescence is a time of numerous changes occurring in a human’s mind and body. This also includes sexual development. Teens undergo various sensations, feelings and thoughts which ignite curiocity and urges.

According to Maslow, sex is a basic type of physical need which all humans tend to feel and need to fulfil in order to feel secure. Just like sleep, food and shelter, sex is also something which drives people. Moreover, according to Sigmund Freud, the father of Psychoanalysis, adolescents start sexual experimentation with a person of the opposite sex in his final stage of personality development called Genital Stage. If a person is successful in this stage, as an adult they will be able to engage in loving and secure relationships. Sex is an integral part of these relationships which makes adolescence an even more important phase for a human, sexually.

As intriguing and fascinating as sex is at its onset, it’s also essential to understand the dimensions of it. Sex can impact a teen positively and/or negatively, both physically and/or emotionally. The mere thought of sex can be overwhelming for teens and there’s so much to think about. Reflecting on what is sex, what it’s not, protecting oneself and how to feel ready for it, physically and emotionally.

Sex can be understood as the following but not limited to:

  1. Physical risk as it can cause unwanted pregnancy or cause sexually transmitted diseases

  2. Emotional risk as it may lead to disappointment, heartbreak, guilt, bruised egos, or other negative emotions associated with attachment or intimacy

  3. Milestone as losing your virginity can be a big decision physically and emotionally

  4. Messy as it can be full of embarrassing and weird noises, sights and smells

Sex should not be misconstrued as the following:

  1. A ‘love test’ for your partner or vice versa

  2. A measure for your maturity

  3. An assertion of your independence

  4. Something to do when you are bored

  5. A proof of your ‘cool quotient’ to your friends

Note – The legal age for sexual consent in India is 18 years. A teen younger than that is not permitted to engage in sexual intercourse as they are incapable of providing consent, according to law.

Protection is another dimension you need to strongly consider before you decide to engage in any sexual activity, especially sexual intercourse. Unprotected sex can lead to pregnancy and/or transmission of STDs. To avoid these, talk to your partner about birth control methods like the use of condoms and/or birth control pills. If you are feeling embarrassed to discuss these with your partner, then take some time and rethink your decision as this is an integral part of sex which can’t be neglected.

Consent before All Else!

Consent is another dimension which needs to be treated seriously before and during any sexual activity. If your partner is under the legal age to consent, asks you to stop during the act, is intoxicated (alcohol or drug), pressured in any way, or feels threatened, sex should be discontinued immediately or not be engaged in at all. Non-consensual sex can lead to accusations of rape.

We often dissect sex based on how we feel physically. However, it’s also vital to understand your emotional triggers and reactions when you want to or are sexually active. If at any point it feels physically or emotionally uncomfortable or ‘off’, there is no harm in stopping it there and then.

Remember, sex is not a goal which you need to tick off in your ‘to-do’ list. It’s a process and an important experience for all of us. Adolescence is a fragile phase of your life which entails various types of different exposures. Be mindful of your decisions as these decisions may govern your adult life. Having said that, don’t overthink everything. Take one thing at a time and enjoy it.

 

If you have a story to share, Email it to us HERE.

If you have a query, Email it to us HERE.

You can also chat with the counsellor by clicking on Teentalk Expert Chat.

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