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Gender Identity Disorder

Gender identity disorder (GID) or transsexualism can be defined by strong, persistent feelings of identification with the opposite gender and discomfort with one’s own assigned sex.


People with GID strive to live as members of the opposite sex and often dress and use mannerisms associated with the other gender. For instance, a person identified as a boy might feel and act like a girl. This is distinct from homosexuality in that homosexuals nearly always identify with their apparent sex or gender. Identity issues manifest in numerous ways. Some people with normal genitals and secondary sex characteristics of one gender privately identify more with the other gender. Some may cross-dress, and sometimes seek sex-change surgery.


Symptoms in Children:
  • Express the desire to be the opposite sex
  • Have disgust with their own genitals
  • Believe that they will grow up to become the opposite sex
  • Are rejected by their peer group and feel isolated
  • Have depression
  • Have anxiety
Symptoms in Adults:
  • Desire to live as a person of the opposite sex
  • Wish to be rid of their own genitals
  • Dress in a way that is typical of the opposite sex
  • Feel isolated
  • Have anxiety
Symptoms Usually Found in Boys:
  • Disgust with own genitals
  • Belief that genitals will disappear or that it would be preferable not to have a penis
  • Rejection of male activities such as rough and tumble play, games and toys
Symptoms Usually Found in Girls:
  • Rejection of urinating in seated position
  • Desire not to develop breasts or menstruate
  • Claims that she will have a penis
  • Strong dislike for typical female clothing


The feelings of being trapped or living in the “wrong” body must persist for at least two years for this diagnosis to be made. The cause is unknown, although hormonal influences in the womb, genetics and environmental factors (such as parenting) are noted to be of influence. The disorder may occur in children or adults. There are two courses for the development of gender identity disorder:

  • The first typically occurs in late adolescence or adulthood, and is a continuation of GID that was persistent in childhood or early adolescence.
  • In the other course, the more overt signs of cross-gender identification appear later and gradually, with a clinical presentation in early to mid-adulthood usually following, yet can be expressed with, transvestic fetishism.


Individual and family counseling is highly suggested for children, an individual or couples therapy is suggested for adults. Sex reassignment through surgery and hormonal therapy can be an option, but severe medical and physical problems can persist after this form of treatment. A better outcome is associated with the early diagnosis and treatment of this disorder.

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