Gender identity disorder is a conflict between a person's actual physical gender and the gender that person identifies himself or herself as. For example, a person identified as a boy may actually feel and act like a girl. The person experiences significant discomfort with the biological sex they were born.
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
- Display of feminine or masculine mannerisms, behavior, and dress
Gender identity disorder is not the same as homosexuality.
Identity conflicts can occur in many situations and appear in different ways. For example, some people with normal genitalia and sexual characteristics (such as breasts) of one gender privately identify more with the other gender.
Some people may cross-dress, and some may seek sex-change surgery. Others are born with
The cause is unknown, but hormones in the womb, genes, and environmental factors (such as parenting) may be involved. This rare disorder may occur in children or adults.
Review Date: 02/18/2010
Reviewed By: Linda J. Vorvick, MD, Medical Director, MEDEX Northwest Division of Physician Assistant Studies, University of Washington, School of Medicine; and Michelle Benger Merrill, MD, Instructor in Clinical Psychiatry, Department of Psychiatry, Columbia University Medical Center, New York, NY. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.