Article

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

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Abstract

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