Journal of Endocrinological Investigation

, Volume 39, Issue 11, pp 1207–1224 | Cite as

Gender identity, gender assignment and reassignment in individuals with disorders of sex development: a major of dilemma

  • A. D. Fisher
  • J. Ristori
  • E. Fanni
  • G. Castellini
  • G. Forti
  • M. MaggiEmail author



Disorders of Sex Development (DSD) are a wide range of congenital conditions characterized by an incongruence of components involved in sexual differentiation, including gender psychosexual development. The management of such disorders is complex, and one of the most crucial decision is represented by gender assignment. In fact, the primary goal in DSD is to have a gender assignment consistent with the underlying gender identity in order to prevent the distress related to a forthcoming Gender Dysphoria. Historically, gender assignment was based essentially on surgical outcomes, assuming the neutrality of gender identity at birth. This policy has been challenged in the past decade refocusing on the importance of prenatal and postnatal hormonal and genetic influences on psychosexual development.


(1) to update the main psychological and medical issues that surround DSD, in particular regarding gender identity and gender assignment; (2) to report specific clinical recommendations according to the different diagnosis.


A systematic search of published evidence was performed using Medline (from 1972 to March 2016). Review of the relevant literature and recommendations was based on authors’ expertise.


A review of gender identity and assignment in DSD is provided as well as clinical recommendations for the management of individuals with DSD.


Given the complexity of this management, DSD individuals and their families need to be supported by a specialized multidisciplinary team, which has been universally recognized as the best practice for intersexual conditions. In case of juvenile GD in DSD, the prescription of gonadotropin-releasing hormone analogues, following the World Professional Association for Transgender Health and the Endocrine Society guidelines, should be considered. It should always be taken into account that every DSD person is unique and has to be treated with individualized care. In this perspective, international registries are crucial to improve the understanding of these challenging conditions and clinical practice, in providing a better prediction of gender identity.


Disorders of Sex Development Gender Dysphoria Gender identity Gender assignment Gender reassignment 


Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical approval

This article does not contain any studies with human participants or animals performed by any of the authors.

Informed consent

For this type of study, formal consent is not required.


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Copyright information

© Italian Society of Endocrinology (SIE) 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • A. D. Fisher
    • 1
  • J. Ristori
    • 1
  • E. Fanni
    • 1
  • G. Castellini
    • 1
    • 2
  • G. Forti
    • 3
  • M. Maggi
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Sexual Medicine and Andrology Unit, Department of Experimental, Clinical and Biomedical SciencesUniversity of FlorenceFlorenceItaly
  2. 2.Psychiatric Unit, Department of Neuroscience, Psychology, Drug Research and Child HealthUniversity of FlorenceFlorenceItaly
  3. 3.Endocrine Unit, “Center for Research, Transfer and High Education on Chronic, Inflammatory, Degenerative and Neoplastic Disorders for the Development of Novel Therapies” (DENOThe), Department of Experimental and Clinical Biomedical Sciences “Mario Serio”University of Florence, Careggi HospitalFlorenceItaly

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