Testosterone, identity and the body: Exploring cultural definitions of disorder

Testosterone, identity and the body : Exploring cultural definitions of disorder / Kyle J.D. Mulrooney, Rick Collins, Jack Darkes. - (International Journal of Drug Policy 95 (2021) September; 103366)

  • PMID: 34412937
  • DOI: 10.1016/j.drugpo.2021.103366


Medically-sanctioned testosterone administration has seen increasingly widespread application in the treatment of gender dysphoria (GD). Yet, by comparison, this approach is not medically accepted for those who are experiencing muscle dysmorphia (MD), a specifier of body dysmorphic disorder (BDD), despite both conditions reflecting incongruences between self-perception, identity and phenotype, and both currently being classified as mental health disorders. Rather, by stark contrast, those with MD are largely treated with psychological intervention to accept themselves as they physically are and the illicit use of testosterone for muscle-related body perception purposes is generally subject to criminal justice enforcement actions. In this commentary, we examine attempts to distinguish between the use of testosterone for gender-affirming hormone therapy in the case of GD and for aesthetic (muscle enhancement) use in the case of MD, as well as explore the implications of this disparity. Moreover, we consider how such disparity in policy and practice may be understood, in part, as an example of a bias reflecting the selective pathologizing of anabolic-androgenic steroid (AAS) use, socio-cultural evolutions in gender identity and expression and, more broadly, the manner in which culture defines disorder and its appropriate response.


17 August 2021
Collins, Rick
Darkes, Jack
Mulrooney, Kyle J.D.
United States of America
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Anti-Doping policy
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Human Enhancement Drugs Network (HEDN)
University of New England (UNE) (Australia)
University of South Florida (USF)
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S1. Anabolic Agents
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Body Dysmorphic Disorder
Muscle dysmorphia
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3 November 2021
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11 November 2021
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