Sexuality and Disability

, Volume 28, Issue 3, pp 165–175 | Cite as

Gender Identity and Sexual Orientation in People with Developmental Disabilities

  • Cheryl BedardEmail author
  • Hui Lan Zhang
  • Kenneth J. Zucker
Original Paper


The purpose of this descriptive study was to survey and compare. A sample of 32 people who have a developmental disability were asked to complete five questionnaires (i.e., demographics, sexual orientation, sexual history, recalled childhood gender identity and adult gender identity). Comparisons were made regarding their sexual orientation and gender identity, as well as differences based on their diagnosis that may not have been related to their developmental disability. One case study was presented to aid in better understanding of a transgendered individual. Research results showed that most subjects perceived themselves as heterosexual (87%), followed by those that saw themselves as bisexual or questioning (9.7%) and lastly those that reported that they were interested in same sex partners (3.2%). No differences were found for diagnostic category. Four subjects scored within the range to indicate that they had gender identity dysphoria (GID). Again, no differences were found for diagnostic category. Interesting findings resulted when comparisons were made to other measures and to other studies. It is proposed that it is good practice for professionals to rule out the possibility of ambivalence about gender and sexual issues caused by social and life experiences, especially regarding abuse and the lack of information/education. However, their identities, gender identity and/or sexual identity, must be honored as we do with the general population.


Developmental disability Gender identity Sexual orientation Disability Gender dysphoria 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Cheryl Bedard
    • 1
    Email author
  • Hui Lan Zhang
    • 2
  • Kenneth J. Zucker
    • 3
  1. 1.Surrey Place CentreTorontoCanada
  2. 2.Michigan School of Professional PsychologyMichiganUSA
  3. 3.Gender Identity Service, Child, Youth, and Family ProgramCentre for Addiction and Mental HealthTorontoCanada

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