Mr Wallis was praised for his bravery by Prime Minister Boris Johnson after revealing they were ‘not doing well’ and being open about gender dysphoria.
“I’ve never lived my truth and I don’t know how,” the MP for Bridgend said in a statement on social media, adding: “Maybe it starts with telling everyone.”
In light of their coming out, here’s what gender dysphoria is and how to access help for it.
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What is gender dysphoria?
According to the NHS, gender dysphoria “describes a feeling of unease that a person may experience due to a mismatch between their biological sex and their gender identity”. Such feelings can be so intense that they can also lead to anxiety and depression, but gender dysphoria itself is not a disease.
Gender identity refers to how a person sees and describes themselves, with people often identifying as male, female, or non-binary. Other terms also used include gender, gender diversity, and gender nonconformity. Sometimes people may feel like their gender identity is different from their biological sex. This can lead to gender dysphoria.
For example, people with male genitalia may not identify as male, while people with female genitalia may not identify as female.
Many people with gender dysphoria will want to live a life that better matches their gender identity. This is often manifested by people changing their appearance and behavior. Some people may want to use hormones or surgery to facilitate these changes, but not all.
Signs of gender dysphoria include low self-esteem, withdrawal from social interactions, depression, anxiety, unnecessary risk taking, or personal neglect. People can also start changing their appearance, through hairstyles, clothing choices, or makeup, to name a few examples.
How to access help with gender dysphoria
If you or someone you know think you have gender dysphoria and want help, the first step is to talk to your GP. You will then be referred to a team of specialists at a Gender Dysphoria Clinic (GDC). You can also refer yourself, but getting a referral from a GP can be quicker and means the GDC will have access to your medical history.
You do not need prior mental health assessments to be referred. The referral of children and young people up to 18 years of age will be made to the Gender Identity Development Service for Children and Adolescents.
It is important to note that waiting times can be long for GDCs, due to the high number of people seeking help in this area. Once you are assessed at a GDC, a treatment plan will be agreed upon. For many, acceptance and understanding are the only treatments they need. For others, bigger changes may help, such as hormone treatment, surgery, or therapy.