Mental Health and Gender Dysphoria

Gender dysphoria, sometimes called gender incongruence, is classified by the World Health Organisation as a sexual health matter.  

However, it isn't a pathology, disease or illness. Gender incongruence is defined as a marked and persistent incongruence between a person's experienced gender and assigned sex.  

This incongruence can occur at a very young age and can be quite common in childhood, when it is natural to explore gender and what it means for any child.  

When people continue to experience gender dysphoria and enter adulthood this may lead to some seeking medical interventions to make their anatomy match their identity. Some men don’t find it necessary to change their anatomy, while others see it as an essential step in their transition.   

To learn more about gender dysphoria, check out the information on NHS UK. 

Lots of trans guys begin a process known as transitioning to tackle their gender dysphoria. There are different types of transitioning and there no one ‘right’ way to do it – it’s important to think about what steps are right for you 

One aspect of transitioning is medical transitioning. This can mean taking hormones such as testosterone, to change your physical attributes. It could also mean having surgery to alter your body, such as top surgery which removes tissue and fat around the chest to give a flat appearance.  

Medical transitions take timebut they are available through the NHS in Scotland. This requires being seen by one of four Gender Identity Clinics in Scotland – some you can self-refer to, and others require a referral from your GP. You can find out more here. 

Another aspect of transitioning is socially transitioning. These are the steps you take in your day-to-day life such as changing your pronouns i.e she/her to he/him, coming out as trans to your friends and family, changing your name, and changing your gender expression, for example through the clothes you wear.  

Ultimately everyone's transition looks different and feel different for them. Transitioning doesn’t mean that you will never experience gender dysphoria again, it means that you will be more confident in your knowledge of who you truly are and having people acknowledge and respect that.  

Transitioning and gender dysphoria can be a difficult and confusing thing to deal with and navigate. If you are feeling overwhelmed, there are a number of charities that specialise in providing mental health support. You can contact:  

  • LGBT Helpline - provide information and emotional support to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people and their families, friends and supporters across Scotland. You can call free on 0300 123 2523 (Tuesdays and Wednesdays 12pm-9pm, Thursdays and Sundays 1pm – 6pm)  
  • MindLine Trans+ - is a confidential emotional, mental health support line for trans people. They also support family and friends of trans people, and provide signposting to other services and resources. You can call free on 0300 330 5468 (Mondays and Fridays 8pm – midnight) 
  • Samaritans – 24/7 listening and emotional support service. You can call free on 116123 
  • Breathing Space – a free, confidential service for people living in Scotland who are experiencing low mood, depression or anxiety. You can call free on 0800 838587 (Mon-Thurs 6pm-2am and from Friday 6pm – Monday 6am 
  • Scottish Association for Mental Health – Scotland’s leading mental health charity. There is lots of information and support available through their website. 
  • In an emergency - If you are feeling suicidal or in distress, then you should seek help immediately. You can call 999 and ask for an ambulance, or attend your nearest accident and emergency. 

Looking for support? Can't find the answers you need online? Fill out our self-referral form, and one of the team will get back to you.