Gender identity disorder (GID) is the formal diagnosis used by psychologists and physicians to describe persons who experience significant gender dysphoria (discontent with the biological sex they were born with). It is a psychiatric classification and describes the attributes related to transgenderism.
Gender identity disorder in children is usually reported as "having always been there" since childhood, and is considered clinically distinct from GID which appears in adolescence or adulthood, which has been reported by some as intensifying over time. As gender identity develops in children, so do sex-role stereotypes. Sex role-stereotypes are the beliefs, characteristics and behaviors of individual cultures, that are deemed normal and appropriate for boys and girls to possess. These "norms" are influenced by ones family and friends, the mass-media, their community and other socializing agents. Since many cultures strongly disapprove of cross-gender behavior, it often results in significant problems for affected persons and those in close relationships with them. In many cases, discomfort is also reported as stemming from the feeling that one's body is "wrong" or meant to be different.
Some transsexual people and researchers have criticized the classification of GID as a mental disorder for several reasons, including evidence from recent studies about the brains of transsexual people. One contemporary treatment for this disorder consists primarily of physical modifications to bring the body into harmony with one's perception of mental (psychological, emotional) gender identity, rather than vice versa.
In the United States, the American Psychiatric Association permits a diagnosis of gender identity disorder if the four diagnostic criteria in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 4thEdition, Text-Revised (DSM-IV-TR) are met. The criteria are:
- Long-standing and strong identification with another gender
- Long-standing disquiet about the sex assigned or a sense of incongruity in the gender-assigned role of that sex
- The diagnosis is not made if the individual also has physical intersex characteristics.
- Significant clinical discomfort or impairment at work, social situations, or other important life areas.
If the four criteria are met under the DSM-IV-TR, a diagnosis is made under ICD-9 code 302.85. See the classification and external resources sidebar at right for other diagnostic codes for gender identity disorder.
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