Behavior Genetics

, Volume 32, Issue 4, pp 251-257

The Heritability of Gender Identity Disorder in a Child and Adolescent Twin Sample

  • Frederick L. CoolidgeAffiliated withPsychology Department, University of Colorado at Colorado Springs Email author 
  • , Linda L. ThedeAffiliated withPsychology Department, University of Colorado at Colorado Springs
  • , Susan E. YoungAffiliated withInstitute for Behavioral Genetics, University of Colorado at Boulder

Rent the article at a discount

Rent now

* Final gross prices may vary according to local VAT.

Get Access


The heritability and prevalence of the gender identity disorder (GID) was examined, as well as its comorbidity with separation anxiety and depression, in a nonretrospective study of child and adolescent twins. The parents of 314 twins (ages 4–17 years; 96 monozygotic pairs [MZ] and 61 dizygotic [DZ] pairs) completed the Coolidge Personality and Neuropsychological Inventory (CPNI) containing a six-item DSM-IV-based GID scale. Prevalence of clinically significant GID symptomatology in the twin sample was estimated to be 2.3%. Univariate model fitting analyses were conducted using an ordinal transformation of the GID scale. The model that best described the data included a significant additive genetic component accounting for 62% of the variance and a nonshared environmental component accounting for the remaining 38% of the variance. Results suggested no heterogeneity in the parameter estimates resulting from age. The correlation between GID and depression was modest, but significant (r = .20; P < .05), whereas the correlation between GID and separation anxiety was nonsignificant (P > .05). Overall, the results support the hypothesis that there is a strong heritable component to GID. The findings may also imply that gender identity may be much less a matter of choice and much more a matter of biology.

Gender identity disorder child and adolescent twins heritability nonretrospective design