Gender Dissonance

Updated: SEPTEMBER 3, 2019

Gender dissonance is a neutral term describing the cognitive discord experienced by people who do not feel their sex assigned at birth correctly identifies them. This state is commonly experienced by people who are transgender, intersex, or gender nonconforming.

The term gender dissonance was coined by transsexual academic Julia Serano in her 2007 book “Whipping Girl.”

More About Gender Dissonance

People with gender dissonance often feel their sex assigned at birth does not match their gender identity. However, some may not feel they have a gender identity at all.

While gender variant people typically feel some degree of gender dissonance, it’s believed it may vary from person to person. A new gender dissonance severity scale aims to explore the level of dissonance experienced by members of the transgender and intersex community. It may be used to help health practitioners guide transgender patients towards the most appropriate treatment options. However, critics argue that it is difficult to measure feelings and apply them to a scale, as they are so personal.

People who prefer the term gender dissonance typically say they do not connect with the more common terms gender dysphoria and gender euphoria. They note gender dissonance implies a distress or discomfort with their gender identity which they have not experienced, yet they also don’t feel the happiness or high that gender euphoria implies. Instead their experience is more neutral, an acceptance of difference that brings no extreme positive or negative feelings.

As gender dissonance is neutral term, it also seeks to erase some of the stigma that can come with the experiences of transgender, intersex, and gender nonconforming individuals. The term does not suggest there is anything abnormal with the experiences these people have. In doing so, it aims to remove much of the stigma and isolation these people experience.


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