What is Gender Identity Disorder (GID)?
Gender Identity Disorder, or transsexualism, is defined as a conflict between a person’s true physical gender and the gender in which the person identifies with. As an example, a person who was born a female may actually identify and act as a male. A person with GID will likely experience significant discomfort with the biological sex in which they were born. GID is not to be confused with homosexuality, as homosexuals almost always identify with their biological gender. Note that gender identity does not necessarily refer to sexual orientation.
While there are limited studies on the prevalence of GID, several countries in Europe have reported that roughly 1 in 30,000 adult males and 1 in 100,000 adult females seek sex-reassignment surgery. This offers insight into an estimated number of adults who may have GID.
Causes of Gender Identity Disorder:
The cause of GID is unknown, however some doctors believe that hormonal influences in the womb and environmental factors (such as parental influences) may have some effect on the development. In some cases a person may be born with ambiguous genitalia therefore raising questions about identifying gender. This rare disorder may occur in children or adults.
Risks of Gender Identity Disorder:
If ignored or left untreated, children with Gender Identity Disorder may resort to self treatment including self-hormone treatment or genital mutilation.
Symptoms of Gender Identity Disorder:
- A disgust for own genitals
- A belief in growing up to become the opposite gender
- Rejection by peers, isolation
- A statement of wanting to be the opposite gender
- Taking on habits typical of the opposite gender
- Withdrawing from social interaction
- Feeling isolated
- Living as a person of the opposite gender
- Wishing to be rid of own genitals
- Withdrawing from social interaction
- Transvestic fetishism
Diagnosis of Gender Identity Disorder:
The feeling of being in the “wrong” gendered body must be present for a minimum of two years before a diagnosis of GID can be made.
The first signs of cross-gender interests in children is typically evident between the ages of two and four. However, some parents have reported that their child with GID always had signs of cross-gender interests. It is important to note that several of the signs or symptoms must be present at length for proper diagnosing.
Treatment of Gender Identity Disorder:
Therapy, both individual and family, are recommended for children with Gender Identity Disorder. Sex reassignment surgery and/or hormonal therapy are both treatment options, but there’s still a risk of identity problems following such treatments. Diagnosing and beginning treatments early will offer best outcomes for children to avoid the onset of depression or emotional distress.
Hormone treatments are complicated and should be administered by a medical professional. Adolescents with GID may find the physical aspects of puberty to be unbearable. Hormone medications that suppress puberty may prevent the child from psychological harm due to the physical changes. The hormone medication stops the release of hormones produced by the pituitary gland called luteinizing and follicle-stimulating hormones. These two hormones cause the male testicles or female ovaries to produce, respectively, the male or female sex hormones that control the sexual development of the child.
Additional Gender Identity Disorder Resources:
Mayo Clinic is a nonprofit worldwide leader in medical care and research for people from all walks of life. Their mission is to inspire hope and contribute to health and well-being by providing the best care to every patient through integrated clinical practice, education and research.
GID Reform - are medical professionals, caregivers, scholars, researchers, students, human rights advocates, and members of the transgender, bisexual, lesbian and gay communities and their allies who advocate reform of the psychiatric classification of gender diversity as mental disorder.
Gender Dysphoria Organization is a center for education and support of gender identity disorders, and a non-profit organization designed for research and educational purposes.