Gender Dysphoria Disorder

Colleen Copelan, MD

Board Certified Psychiatrist, specializing in Child and Adolescent Psychiatry located in Camarillo, CA

Gender dysphoria disorder is the clinical term for the emotional discomfort and distress that sometimes occurs when your gender identity doesn’t match your assigned gender. At her practice in Camarillo, California, Colleen Copelan, MD, a board-certified child and adolescent psychiatrist, helps young people cope with this challenging time of life in a safe, judgment-free zone. If your child struggles with their gender identity, call Dr. Copelan to make an appointment today.

Gender Dysphoria Disorder Q & A

What is gender dysphoria disorder?

Gender dysphoria disorder is the distress and other emotional and mental symptoms that occur when there’s a conflict between your assigned gender and gender identity. 

Many children know they identify as a different or nonconforming gender at a young age, while others might not understand or redefine their identity until puberty or adolescence. Regardless of when it happens, it can be a distressing and frightening time of life. 

Dr. Copelan helps young people explore their gender identity and related thoughts and feelings in a safe environment. She also diagnoses and treats other mental health conditions that co-occur, like depression, anxiety, eating disorders, and substance abuse.  

What are the signs of gender dysphoria disorder?

Children and adolescents display varying symptoms and signs of gender dysphoria disorder. For example, children might:

  • Have a strong desire to be the other gender
  • Insist they are the other gender
  • Have a preference for cross-gender make-believe play
  • Prefer playmates of the other gender
  • Reject toys and activities typical of their assigned gender
  • Dislike their anatomy


Adolescents, on the other hand, tend to demonstrate:

  • A desire to be rid of their primary and secondary sex characteristics
  • A strong desire to be the other gender
  • An insistence on being treated and recognized as the other gender
  • A conviction that they have the feelings and reactions of the other gender
  • Incongruence between their expressed gender and physical sex characteristics


Gender dysphoria disorder is often distressing at any age. It can interfere with your child’s ability to function at school or at home. They might withdraw from friends, social or extracurricular activities, and be reluctant to go to school. 

When should I talk to a psychiatrist about my child’s gender dysphoria?

Dr. Copelan understands the challenges your child faces as they go through this difficult period and form their identity. If your child has expressed signs of gender dysphoria disorder or distress about their identity, make an appointment. 

Young people often benefit from talking to someone outside of their family about their gender identity. Even if you’re fully supportive of your child, they might feel pressure to protect your feelings or want to avoid tension at home. Dr. Copelan provides an unbiased outlet. 

How do you treat gender dysphoria disorder?

Dr. Copelan begins with a comprehensive consultation to assess and diagnose your child’s condition and any co-occurring issues. She might prescribe medication to manage related conditions like depression or anxiety.

Counseling is a critical component of treatment. Your child learns to explore and share their emotions and thoughts about their gender identity. Dr. Copelan also provides resources to help your child learn about their options to express their identity and lead a fulfilling life. 

Call Colleen Copelan, MD, today to schedule a consultation if your child has signs of gender dysphoria disorder. 

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