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What is Gender Identity Disorder?

By Patti Kate
Updated May 17, 2024
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Gender identity disorder is a psychological affliction, manifesting in disorientation regarding one's gender. The individual may feel a sense of discord or displeasure, as he perceives himself as being the wrong gender. He may feel similarities to the opposite sex and disconnected to his own gender. Many psychologists diagnose a gender identity disorder during adolescence or teenage years. In some cases however, symptoms of this disorder may also manifest in young children.

The earliest signs of a gender identity disorder in children may first be recognized by the parents. Parents may begin noticing unusual patterns of behavior in children as young as two or three years old. The child may ask for gender specific clothing designed for the opposite sex, and engage in cross-gender activities during playtime. He may also choose to solely play with members of the opposite sex and lack friends of his own gender.

Male children may acquire a feminine personification, and females may adapt masculine behaviors during play. Both genders may abandon the notion of assuming gender appropriate roles. Simulation of the opposite sex during activities and play may be easily recognized by parents and teachers. All of these are stereotypical signs of gender identity disorder. Many experts concur however, that exhibiting only one sign, such as preference to having playmates of the opposite sex, does not conclusively indicate the presence of this disorder.

A trained professional is able to make the diagnosis of a transgender type disorder. If no professional intervention is sought, the child may develop ongoing emotional issues. These psychological problems may become progressively worse as the child enters adolescence. Feelings of isolation may occur during teen years and in some cases, suicidal thoughts may be present. The individual may consider sex-change surgery upon reaching adulthood.

There is much debate over the specific causes of gender identity disorder. Ongoing studies and research suggest a biological factor is involved, and many experts also report that social or environmental aspects play a part as well. According to some experts, hormonal and chemical irregularities may also be attributed to certain transgender disorders.

Adolescents and young adults affected by a gender identity disorder may become increasingly frustrated. These individuals are prone to psychological symptoms such as panic attacks, anxiety, and depression. They may feel shunned by society and claim to be labeled an outcast by their peers. Those profoundly affected may resort to self-destructive behaviors as well.

Treating individuals with gender identity disorders may involve several options. Psychotherapy with a trained professional may be helpful for some. In some cases, hormone replacement methods may provide a solution.

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