Gender identity and dissociative disorders can intertwine, and it may even confuse the person dealing with the problems. But, they are distinctively different and it’s important to differentiate them and find the root cause of the issues one is facing.
Gender identity disorder is a condition in which someone who is born as one sex identifies as the opposite sex. For instance, someone who was born a male that identifies as female. Gender dysphoria is a symptom that those with gender identity disorder have. The dysphoria experienced is specifically related to the sex they were born as. Another example is a person who was born male feeling uncomfortable with their male genitals, facial structure, and body structure. Transgender, more specifically transsexual, is the term used to describe people who have gender identity disorder. The remedy for this condition is often to transition to the sex they identify with. While hormone replacement therapy and surgery is not perfect, it can be enough to eliminate dysphoria which is often debilitating.
Dissociative identity disorder, previously known as multiple personality disorder, is a condition in which an individual has endured trauma during childhood that they developed alter personality states by dissociating themselves from the abuse. These alter personalities develop on their own as the child’s mind has become shattered from abuse. The alter personalities can have different names, backgrounds, appearances, way of speaking, and genders. The remedy for this disorder is integration where the individual goes through intense therapy to uncover their fragmented personality states, learn to accept their trauma and abuse, and integrate the personality that held that trauma into their core personality, creating a more rounded whole.
While these two disorders may not sound even remotely similar, there actually is an overlap. What if the person with dissociative identity disorder has an alter personality that is the opposite sex of the body? What if the body is female, but the personality is male? Does that make this person transgender? This is where things get a big complex.
First, alter personalities in someone who has DID formed due to past trauma. They can be male or female, it really doesn’t matter, but the trauma is what is key here. While gender identity disorder and being transgender isn’t considered a mental illness, what if for some people, like in this case, it is? What if the trauma brought about the splitting of personality and actually made someone think they were transgender? This can be incredibly confusing for those with DID since they may have an alter personality that doesn’t feel comfortable in their body. But the question remains, is this person transgender?
An alter personality is part of a unified core that has been separated into multiple parts. These parts can develop independently. So, someone who is born female but has a male personality, yes that personality will experience gender dysphoria, and sometimes the need to transition. Technically, this personality is transgender since they experience gender dysphoria and have the desire to transition. However, the core personalty doesn’t experience dysphoria and is fine as their birth sex.
What if the individual has many personalities, most of which are the opposite sex and experience gender dysphoria? This can be incredibly confusing for those with DID since they may not be able to discern between what they really want to do and what their alter personalities want to do. And another question has to be asked, what if the alter personality does transition? How does that impact the rest of the personalities?
In order to be diagnosed with gender dysphoria and being transgender, there should be no other causes of the feelings of discomfort with ones sex. In this case, the person with DID experiences gender dysphoria only from a part of them that is the opposite sex of what they were born as. While this is technically defined as transgender, the root cause of the disorder should be taken into consideration first. Meaning, the DID has to be sorted out before the individual transitions. Only then will the true answer emerge if this person is actually transgender or not.
Gender and mental health conditions can get quite confusing, making us doubt ourselves and our abilities. But, getting proper help and learning that you are not alone helps tremendously. Find some helpful resources and you can and will properly cope with and overcome your challenges in life.
Let me know how this works for you. Have a great day!
I have always wondered if me being transgender stemmed from childhood trauma. I think they did, and if I wasn’t abused, I would not be transgender. But, if I dealt with my mental health issues first, which is what should’ve been done instead of the gender identity, then would I have transitioned? It’s hard to say since there is no way of knowing. I’ve thought that by transitioning I was escaping from the past me that was traumatized. This escape actually made my problems worse and led to finally facing my mental health issues. I don’t regret anything, and am happy with who I am.