Gender Identity Disorder: Overview

Content Written By: Vin Tangpricha, MD, PhD

Gender identity disorder (GID) refers to a spectrum of conditions in which the individual has a strong persistent cross-gender identification and feels inappropriate in his or her assigned birth role. The cardinal feature of GID is the feeling of gender dysphoria, the uncomfortable feeling of one’s assigned gender. The diagnosis of GID is typically made using the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM, now currently in revision) by an experienced mental health professional. Following a period of counseling, individuals are referred for hormonal therapies and/or surgical therapies to initiate their transition into the appropriate gender.

Transsexuals are individuals who seek both hormonal and surgical therapies to match their external appearance to match their gender identification. Transgender refers to the individuals who make seek a combination or hormones and/or surgery to relieve their sense of gender dysphoria. The exact prevalence of GID in the United States and most countries is not known. It is estimated that 1 out of 30,000 to 100,000 individuals have GID; however, these are likely under estimates since many individuals do not seek therapy
due to the social stigma of GID that remains even in the present day.

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