Date of Award
Master of Arts
Researchers continually identify gender dysphoria as a significant mental health concern for many transgender individuals. Physical and mental health providers use the existing medical model to conceptualize and design treatment for gender dysphoria. This means that gender dysphoria is currently viewed and treated as an internal concern isolated to the individual. Researchers have also identified that external factors, such as discrimination and societal prejudice, have a significantly negative impact on the health of transgender individuals. Given that current conceptualizations of gender dysphoria focus on internal contributors to distress, external factors that also potentially contribute to gender dysphoria have not yet been explored. To address this gap in the literature, I conducted a study to identify and assess the severity of various external factors that may contribute to self-reported levels of gender dysphoria in transgender individuals. I recruited 195 participants who identify as transgender and who report experiencing gender dysphoria. Participants completed a survey that included the Transgender Congruence Scale, the Gender Preoccupation and Stability Scale, the Multidimensional Scale of Perceived Social Support, Gender Minority Stress and Resilience subscales, and the Gender Dysphoria from External Contributors Measure, a series of Likert-type scales developed for the present study that measure frequency of gender dysphoria experienced in a variety of external contexts. I conducted hierarchical multiple regression analyses to evaluate predictors for gender dysphoria from external contributors and gender dysphoria from internal contributors. Gender dysphoria from internal contributors was significantly associated with gender dysphoria from external contributors (r = 0.51). Several predictors uniquely predicted external contributors (i.e. gender-related rejection and gender-related discrimination) while others uniquely predicted internal contributors (i.e. internalized transphobia). Findings indicate that focusing solely on internal contributors generates an incomplete conceptualization of gender dysphoria. The results from this study allow for a more comprehensive understanding of gender dysphoria and the ways in which it impacts many transgender individuals. These results will be helpful in developing more accurate measures of gender dysphoria, which will lead to more effective, inclusive, and affirmative treatments for gender dysphoria and for transgender individuals in general.
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