No. A person’s sex cannot be changed. Biological sex is determined at conception (genotype) and during the baby’s development in the womb (phenotype).
Sex differences are expressed in many bodily systems and organs, not just what can be seen and observed by the human eye. While it is possible to change many areas of our lives, such as our dressing, hobbies, diet, or friends, it is not possible to change one’s biological sex.
It is possible, however, to change a person’s outward appearance.
Some people may use clothing, accessories and make-up to modify how they look. For example, a female might bind her chest in order to reduce breast visibility. However, it is also important to note that chest-binding is associated with negative symptoms such as rib pain or musculoskeletal symptoms (Jarrett et al., 2018).
Others may take sex hormones (oestrogen and testosterone) or turn to cosmetic surgery to further alter their appearance. These actions are taken as part of a process known as “medical transitioning”, but they do not change a person’s underlying biological sex.
What about gender dysphoria?
The word “dysphoria” is a clinical term for a sense of unease or distress when one experiences a mismatch between their gender identity and biological sex.
There are three types of gender dysphoria:
Early onset gender dysphoria typically begins in early childhood, usually between the ages of 2 and 4. According to Psychology Today, only a small number of children with gender dysphoria will continue to experience symptoms in later adolescence or adulthood.
Late onset gender dysphoria first appears in early to mid-adulthood. Persons who experience late onset gender dysphoria are almost exclusively male. This may simply involve experiencing sexual arousal through dressing as a woman, but it can also involve medical transitioning and living as a female.
Rapid onset gender dysphoria, an increasing social phenomenon, affects adolescents who have identified with their own biological sex for years, then decide they want to change genders and sometimes alter their bodies.
This developmental problem, which seems to predominantly affect adolescent females, is said to be associated with social influences such as:
If you suspect your child may be experiencing gender dysphoria, it is important to acknowledge their struggles and to seek therapeutic help. Approach them from a posture of listening, gentleness and patience.
Be present with them when they are willing to share and be open about their thoughts and experiences, while also remembering that loving your child need not mean you have to affirm and agree with everything they do.
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