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Is Gender Identity Disorder in Children a Mental Disorder?

Abstract

Empirical studies were evaluated to determine whether Gender Identity Disorder (GID) in children meets the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders-4th Edition (DSM-IV, American Psychiatric Association, 1994) definitional criteria of mental disorder. Specifically, we examined whether GID in children is associated with (a) present distress; (b) present disability; (c) a significantly increased risk of suffering death, pain, disability, or an important loss of freedom; and if (d) GID represents dysfunction in the individual or is simply deviant behavior or a conflict between the individual and society. The evaluation indicates that children who experience a sense of inappropriateness in the culturally prescribed gender role of their sex but do not experience discomfort with their biological sex should not be considered to have GID. Because of flaws in the DSM-IV definition of mental disorder, and limitations of the current research base, there is insufficient evidence to make any conclusive statement regarding children who experience discomfort with their biological sex. The concluding recommendation is that, given current knowledge, the diagnostic category of GID in children in its current form should not appear in future editions of the DSM.

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Bartlett, N.H., Vasey, P.L. & Bukowski, W.M. Is Gender Identity Disorder in Children a Mental Disorder?. Sex Roles 43, 753–785 (2000). https://doi.org/10.1023/A:1011004431889

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Keywords

  • Mental Disorder
  • Gender Role
  • Statistical Manual
  • American Psychiatric Association
  • Diagnostic Category