Navigate Up
Unable to display this Web Part. To troubleshoot the problem, open this Web page in a Microsoft SharePoint Foundation-compatible HTML editor such as Microsoft SharePoint Designer. If the problem persists, contact your Web server administrator.


Correlation ID:87ef06c6-b3fb-42bc-869f-2e432f0ec5fe

Print This Page

Gender identity disorder

Gender identity disorder is a conflict between a person's physical gender and the gender he or she identifies as. For example, a person identified as a boy may actually feel and act like a girl. The person is very uncomfortable with the gender they were born.

See also: Intersex

Alternative Names

Transsexualism; Transgender

Causes, incidence, and risk factors

People with gender identity disorder may act and present themselves as members of the opposite sex. The disorder may affect:

  • Choice of sexual partners
  • Mannerisms, behavior, and dress
  • Self-concept

Gender identity disorder is not the same as homosexuality.

Identity conflicts need to continue over time to be a gender identity disorder. How the gender conflict occurs is different in each person. For example, some people may cross-dress while others want sex-change surgery. Some people of one gender privately identify more with the other gender.

People who are born with ambiguous genitalia , which can raise questions about their gender, may develop a gender identity disorder.

The cause is unknown, but hormones in the womb, genes, social and environmental factors (such as parenting) may be involved. This rare disorder may occur in children or adults.

Symptoms

Symptoms can vary by age, and are affected by the person's social environment. They may include the following:

Children:

  • Are disgusted by their own genitals
  • Are rejected by their peers, feel alone
  • Believe that they will grow up to become the opposite sex
  • Have depression or anxiety
  • Say that they want to be the opposite sex

Adults:

  • Dress like the opposite sex
  • Feel alone
  • Have depression or anxiety
  • Want to live as a person of the opposite sex
  • Wish to be rid of their own genitals

Either adults or children:

  • Cross-dress, show habits typical of the opposite sex
  • Withdraw from social interaction

Signs and tests

The feeling of being in the body of the "wrong" gender must last for at least 2 years for this diagnosis to be made. A history and psychiatric evaluation can confirm the person's constant desire to be the opposite sex. The person's partner choices may be same sex or opposite sex.

Treatment

Individual and family therapy is recommended for children to create a supportive environment at home and in school. Individual and, if appropriate, couples therapy is recommended for adults. Sex reassignment through surgery and hormonal therapy is an option, but identity problems may continue after this treatment.

Expectations (prognosis)

Diagnosing and treating this disorder early can reduce the chances of depression, emotional distress, and suicide.

Complications

  • Depression or anxiety
  • Emotional distress
  • Feeling alone
  • Poor self-concept
  • Suicide

Calling your health care provider

Make an appointment with your health care provider if you have symptoms of this disorder and want help, especially with anxiety and depression.

References

Shafer LC. Sexual disorders and sexual dysfunction. In: Stern TA, Rosenbaum JF, Fava M, Biederman J, Rauch SL, eds. Massachusetts General Hospital Comprehensive Clinical Psychiatry. 1st ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Mosby Elsevier;2008:chap 36.

Bockting W. Sexual identity development. In: Kliegman RM, Behrman RE, Jenson HB, Stanton BF, eds. Nelson Textbook of Pediatrics. 19th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2011:chap 104.2.

Moller B, Schreier H, Li A, Romer G. Gender identity disorder in children and adolescents. Curr Probl Pediatr Adolesc Health Care. 2009;39:117-143.

Updated: 2/13/2012

Linda J. Vorvick, MD, Medical Director and Director of Didactic Curriculum, MEDEX Northwest Division of Physician Assistant Studies, Department of Family Mediicne, UW Medicine, School of Medicine, University of Washington; and Timothy Rogge, MD, Medical Director, Family Medical Psychiatry Center, Kirkland, WA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc.


©  UPMC | Affiliated with the University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences
Supplemental content provided by A.D.A.M. Health Solutions. All rights reserved.

For help in finding a doctor or health service that suits your needs, call the UPMC Referral Service at 412-647-UPMC (8762) or 1-800-533-UPMC (8762). Select option 1.

UPMC is an equal opportunity employer. UPMC policy prohibits discrimination or harassment on the basis of race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, age, sex, genetics, sexual orientation, marital status, familial status, disability, veteran status, or any other legally protected group status. Further, UPMC will continue to support and promote equal employment opportunity, human dignity, and racial, ethnic, and cultural diversity. This policy applies to admissions, employment, and access to and treatment in UPMC programs and activities. This commitment is made by UPMC in accordance with federal, state, and/or local laws and regulations.

Medical information made available on UPMC.com is not intended to be used as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. You should not rely entirely on this information for your health care needs. Ask your own doctor or health care provider any specific medical questions that you have. Further, UPMC.com is not a tool to be used in the case of an emergency. If an emergency arises, you should seek appropriate emergency medical services.

For UPMC Mercy Patients: As a Catholic hospital, UPMC Mercy abides by the Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services, as determined by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. As such, UPMC Mercy neither endorses nor provides medical practices and/or procedures that contradict the moral teachings of the Roman Catholic Church.

© UPMC
Pittsburgh, PA, USA UPMC.com