A gender identity disorder is one in which a person wants to be the opposite sex. The person may also believes that he or she is "trapped" in a body of the wrong sex.
Gender identity disorder is a profound disturbance of a person's sense of sexual identity. This disorder can begin as early as 2 years of age.
Gender identity disorder occurs more often in males than in females. No one knows what causes this disorder. Some theories suggest the disorder may be caused by:
The signs and symptoms of gender identity disorder differ somewhat in children and adults.
A physical exam should be done to see if the person has any other any other condition that could be causing a sex identity problem. The diagnosis of gender identity disorder is made only if the person is distressed or has problems in social, interpersonal, or occupational functioning.
There is no known prevention for gender identity disorder.
A person with gender identity disorder is usually isolated. Isolation and ostracism adds to the low self-esteem, and the person is more prone to suicide attempts. The disorder also increases the person's risk for alcohol abuse, drug abuse, depression, and acute situational anxiety\ \
There are no risks to others from gender identity disorder.
Individual and family counseling early in gender identity disorder can often help a person get used to his or her biologic sex. This has been shown to reduce later transsexual behavior and distress.
In more severe cases, a sex-change operation may be an option. This is surgery to change the person's genitals. It also includes giving hormones. However, before this treatment is considered, the person will undergo in-depth psychological and psychiatric evaluation and counseling.
There are possible side effects with any surgery. These include bleeding, infection, and allergic reaction to the anesthesia.
A person with gender identity disorder who has a sex-change operation is often able to have good sexual relations. Hormones will be continued after surgery.
A person with gender identity disorder often needs to be monitored on an ongoing basis.
Author:Ann Reyes, Ph.D.
Editor:Smith, Mary Ellen, BS
Reviewer:Gail Hendrickson, RN, BS
Tierney, Lawrence, editor, "Current Medical Diagnosis and Treatment, 39th edition", 2000
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