Gender dysphoria emerges in youth who have problematic developmental histories
It is a well-established observation that individuals suffering from gender dysphoria (GD) demonstrate an increased prevalence of mental health issues when compared to the general population. One theory that explains the link between GD and mental illness is the minority stress model. Gender-non-conforming and GD youth experience elevated rates of victimization, discrimination, and prejudice. According to the minority stress theory, these adverse experiences are the primary cause of the poorer mental health status of GD individuals. There are two issues which contradict the minority stress theory. First, evidence shows that mental health issues often precede the onset of gender identity concerns. Second, long-term studies have not been able to demonstrate lasting mental health benefits of “gender-affirmative” (hormonal and surgical) interventions. These findings do not support the argument that minority stress is the primary reason for the high co-occurrence of GD and other psychiatric disorders. An alternative explanatory model for the co-occurrence of GD and other forms of distress and mental illness is that both arise as a result of a complex interplay of biological, relational, and cultural factors.