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, in a person with a normal chromosome complement for his or her gender, and not having any physical or endocrine abnormality that would explain the failure of normal development of gender identity. This disorder can begin as early as 2 years of age.
The signs and symptoms of gender identity disorder differ somewhat in children and adults.
Children may: express the desire to be the opposite sexhave disgust with their own genitalsbelieve that they will grow up to become the opposite sexshow a strong preference for playmates of the opposite sexwant to play the stereotypical games of the opposite sexbe rejected by their peer groupfeel isolatedbe depressed
Adults may: desire to live as a person of the opposite sexbelieve that he or she was born the wrong sexwish to be rid of their own genitalsdress like the opposite sexbe heterosexual or homosexualfeel isolatedbe depressedbe withdrawnhave low self-esteem
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: a genetic abnormalityimbalances in hormones that are not part of a recognized endocrine disorderproblems with early parent-child bondingharmful child-rearing practices
There is no known prevention for gender identity disorder.
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.
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 anxiety disorders.
There are no risks to others from gender identity disorder.
Individual and family counseling early in gender identity disorder can often help a person become comfortable his or her biologic sex. This has been shown to reduce later transsexual behavior and distress.
Complete sex change operations have been used in more severe cases of gender identity disorder that persist into adulthood. This is an elaborate reconstructive surgery to change the person's genitals, undertaken after an extended period of hormone therapy and experimentation with life as a person of the opposite sex. However, before this treatment is considered, the person needs to undergo in-depth psychological and psychiatric evaluation and counseling. .
There are possible side effects with any surgery. These include bleeding, infection, and reactions to anesthesia.
A person with gender identity disorder who has had a sex-change operation is often able to have sexual relations. Hormones will be continued after surgery.
A person with gender identity disorder often needs to be monitored on an ongoing basis.
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