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Psychosexual Outcome of Gender-Dysphoric Children

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To establish the psychosexual outcome of gender-dysphoric children at 16 years or older and to examine childhood characteristics related to psychosexual outcome. We studied 77 children who had been referred in childhood to our clinic because of gender dysphoria (59 boys, 18 girls; mean age 8.4 years, age range 5-12 years). In childhood, we measured the children's cross-gender identification and discomfort with their own sex and gender roles. At follow-up 10.4 +/- 3.4 years later, 54 children (mean age 18.9 years, age range 16-28 years) agreed to participate. In this group, we assessed gender dysphoria and sexual orientation. At follow-up, 30% of the 77 participants (19 boys and 4 girls) did not respond to our recruiting letter or were not traceable; 27% (12 boys and 9 girls) were still gender dysphoric (persistence group), and 43% (desistance group: 28 boys and 5 girls) were no longer gender dysphoric. Both boys and girls in the persistence group were more extremely cross-gendered in behavior and feelings and were more likely to fulfill gender identity disorder (GID) criteria in childhood than the children in the other two groups. At follow-up, nearly all male and female participants in the persistence group reported having a homosexual or bisexual sexual orientation. In the desistance group, all of the girls and half of the boys reported having a heterosexual orientation. The other half of the boys in the desistance group had a homosexual or bisexual sexual orientation. Most children with gender dysphoria will not remain gender dysphoric after puberty. Children with persistent GID are characterized by more extreme gender dysphoria in childhood than children with desisting gender dysphoria. With regard to sexual orientation, the most likely outcome of childhood GID is homosexuality or bisexuality.
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Psychosexual Outcome of Gender<Dysphoric Children
MADELEINE S.C. WALLIEN, PH.D., AND PEGGY T. COHEN-KETTENIS, PH.D.
ABSTRACT
Objective: To establish the psychosexual outcome of gender-dysphoric children at 16 years or older and to examine
childhood characteristics related to psychosexual outcome. Method: We studied 77 children who had been referred in
childhood to our clinic because of gender dysphoria (59 boys, 18 girls; mean age 8.4 years, age range 5Y12 years).
In childhood, we measured the children’s cross-gender identification and discomfort with their own sex and gender roles. At
follow-up 10.4 T3.4 years later, 54 children (mean age 18.9 years, age range 16Y28 years) agreed to participate. In this
group, we assessed gender dysphoria and sexual orientation. Results: At follow-up, 30% of the 77 participants (19 boys
and 4 girls) did not respond to our recruiting letter or were not traceable; 27% (12 boys and 9 girls) were still gender
dysphoric (persistence group), and 43% (desistance group: 28 boys and 5 girls) were no longer gender dysphoric. Both
boys and girls in the persistence group were more extremely cross-gendered in behavior and feelings and were more likely
to fulfill gender identity disorder (GID) criteria in childhood than the children in the other two groups. At follow-up, nearly all
male and female participants in the persistence group reported having a homosexual or bisexual sexual orientation. In the
desistance group, all of the girls and half of the boys reported having a heterosexual orientation. The other half of the boys
in the desistance group had a homosexual or bisexual sexual orientation. Conclusions: Most children with gender
dysphoria will not remain gender dysphoric after puberty. Children with persistent GID are characterized by more extreme
gender dysphoria in childhood than children with desisting gender dysphoria. With regard to sexual orientation, the most
likely outcome of childhood GID is homosexuality or bisexuality. J. Am. Acad. Child and Adolesc. Psychiatry,
2008;47(12):1413Y1423. Key Words: gender identity disorder, gender dysphoria, pubertal outcome, psychosexual
differentiation, sexual orientation.
Children diagnosed with gender identity disorder (GID)
have a strong cross-gender identification and a persistent
discomfort with their biological sex or gender role
associated with that sex (gender dysphoria). Initial
studies have shown that most children with GID will no
longer be gender dysphoric later in life.
1Y7
However, a
few more recent articles
8,9
indicated that the psycho-
sexual differentiation of children with GID is more
variable than what the early studies suggested and that,
in a substantial proportion of the children (20%), the
gender-dysphoric feelings persist into adolescence.
With DSM-V on the horizon, an important diag-
nostic issue concerns the relation between childhood
and adolescent/adult GID. Some critics have expressed
concerns that the DSM
10,11
criteria do not adequately
differentiate the children with Btrue[(and probably
persistent) GID from those who show merely gender-
nonconforming behavior
12
and that, as a consequence,
children who should not be classified as having a
psychiatric disorder would be treated with various
psychological interventions. Clinically, it is also impor-
tant to be able to discriminate between persisters and
desisters before the start of puberty. If one was certain
that a child belongs to the persisting group, interven-
tions with gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH)
analogs to delay puberty could even start before puberty
Accepted June 23, 2008.
Dr. Wallien is with the Department of Medical Psychology and Institute for
Clinical and Experimental Neurosciences, Graduate School of Neurosciences, VU
University Medical Center. Dr. Cohen-Kettenis is a clinical psychologist and the
head of the Department of Medical Psychology, VU University Medical Center.
This article is the subject of an editorial by Dr. Kenneth Zucker in this issue.
Correspondence to Dr. Madeleine S.C. Wallien, VU University Medical
Center, Department of Medical Psychology, PO Box 7057, 1007 MB
Amsterdam, The Netherlands; e-mail: m.wallien@vumc.nl/ pt.cohen-kettenis@
vumc.nl.
Supplemental digital content is available for this article. Direct URL
citations appear in the printed text and are provided in the HTML and PDF
versions of this article on the Journal’s Web site (www.jaacap.com).
0890-8567/08/4712-1413 Ó2008 by the American Academy of Child and
Adolescent Psychiatry.
DOI: 10.1097/CHI.0b013e31818956b9
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rather than after the first pubertal stages, as now often
happens.
13
The possibility of identifying the persisters
in childhood would also be helpful, if treatments
would be available to prevent the intensive and drastic
hormonal and surgical treatments these children face
in adolescence or adulthood.
Another issue regarding the psychosexual outcome of
children with GID is the relation between the child’s
gender atypicality and sexual orientation in adulthood.
Early prospective follow-up studies indicated that a high
rate (60%Y100%) of children (mostly boys) with gender
dysphoria had a homosexual or bisexual sexual orienta-
tion in adolescence or adulthood and no longer
experienced gender-dysphoric feelings.
1Y8
In a prospec-
tive follow-up study by Green,
3
sexual orientation and
gender identity in adulthood were assessed in 44
feminine boys and 30 control boys. Of these 44
feminine boys, only one youth was gender dysphoric at
the age of 18, whereas none of the control boys reported
gender dysphoria at follow-up. Sexual orientation in
fantasy and behavior was assessed by means of a semi-
structured interview. Green found that, on the behavior
dimension, 80% of the feminine boys were either
homosexual or bisexual, and, on the fantasy dimension,
75% of the feminine boys had a homosexual or a
bisexual sexual orientation at follow-up. Among the
control boys, the ratings were 4% for behavior and 0%
for fantasy. Green and colleagues
14
also found that
sexual orientation was associated with childhood doll
play and female role playing. The results of Green and
others
1Y7
are in accordance with retrospective studies
among adult homosexuals, who recalled more childhood
cross-gender behavior than heterosexuals.
15
The earlier follow-up studies
1Y9
indicated that the
percentages of gender-dysphoric boys and girls who had a
later bisexual/homosexual orientation were much higher
than the base rates of bisexuality or homosexuality in
general surveys and in epidemiological studies of
adolescents and young adults. The reported percentages
are lower in the study by Zucker and Bradley
8
on
(mostly) gender-dysphoric boys (31% of the 41 parti-
cipants who had sexual fantasies had either a bisexual or
homosexual sexual orientation in fantasy; for 58%, no
data on sexual behavior were available) and in a study by
Drummond et al.
16
among 25 gender-dysphoric girls
(32% of the girls reported having bisexual or homosexual
fantasies; there were no data on sexual behavior for 32%
of the girls), but in both studies, the proportion of
participants with a homosexual and bisexual sexual
orientation was still substantially higher than the base
rates in the general population.
Because a gender-dysphoric outcome was not com-
mon in the above studies, the studies
1Y9
focused more on
the sexual orientation outcome of the gender-dysphoric
children than on the relation between childhood gender
dysphoria and later GID. Therefore, these reports do not
give information on whether participants with distinct
gender identity outcomes differ from each other in
childhood. It has been argued that there is plasticity in
gender identity differentiation that occurs in early
development and narrows considerably by adoles-
cence,
16
but the precise factor or set of factors
influencing psychosexual development is still unknown.
It is likely that only the children with extreme gender
dysphoria are future sex reassignment applicants,
whereas the children with less persistent and intense
gender dysphoria are future homosexuals or hetero-
sexuals without GID. However, none of the follow-
up studies have as yet provided evidence for this
supposition.
In this study, we first assessed the psychosexual
outcome of gender-dysphoric boys and girls in terms of
gender identity and sexual orientation. Second, we
investigated which childhood measures of gender
behavior and feelings were related to GID persistence
or desistance. Based on our clinical experience, we
expected the more extreme gender-dysphoric children to
be persisters.
METHOD
Participants
Between 1989 and 2005, 200 children (144 boys and 56 girls)
were referred to the Gender Identity Clinic of the Department of
Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at the University Medical Center
Utrecht (which moved to the Department of Medical Psychology of
the VU University Medical Center in Amsterdam in 2002). To be
included in the follow-up study, participants had to be at least 16
years of age. Using this cutoff, we identified 77 children (59 boys
and 18 girls, who were between 5 and 12 years of age at first
assessment). All 77 children were contacted for participation.
Table 1 provides participant characteristics at childhood assess-
ment (T
0
) and follow-up assessment (T
1
). At T
0
, 75% of the 77
potential participants who were contacted had met complete
diagnostic criteria for GID, according to the DSM-III-R,
20
whereas
25% were subthreshold for the diagnosis (GID not otherwise
specified [NOS]).
20
At T
1
, 23 of the 77 potential participants (30%; 19 boys and
4 girls) did not respond or were not traceable (nonresponder group);
the other 54 (40 boys and 14 girls) were included in our study.
WALLIEN AND COHEN-KETTENIS
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TABLE 1
Demographic Characteristics, IQ, and DSM Diagnosis of GID at T
0
and T
1
All (N= 77) Persistence (n= 21) Desistance (n= 23) Parent (n= 10) Nonresponders (n= 23)
Variables Boys (n= 59) Girls (n= 18) Boys (n= 12) Girls (n= 9) Boys (n= 19) Girls (n= 4) Boys (n= 9) Girls (n= 1) Boys (n= 19) Girls (n=4)
Age at childhood assessment
Mean 8.3 8.6 8.6 8.8 8.7 8.3 8.1 9 7.9 8.5
SD 2.0 1.5 1.4 1.8 2.4 1.9 2.3 0 1.8 1.8
Range 5Y12 6Y11 6Y11 6Y11 5Y12 7Y11 5Y12 0 5Y11 7Y9
Age at follow-up assessment
Mean 19.4 18.7 19.1 17.8 19.8 18.3 17.8 25 19.8 19.8
SD 3.4 2.7 2.9 2.5 3.3 1.3 1.4 0 4.3 2.2
Range 16Y28 16Y25 16Y24 16Y24 16Y28 17Y216Y20 0 16Y24 17Y22
Interval, y
a
Mean 10.4 10.1 10.5 9.0 9.9 10.0 8.8 16 11.6 11.3
SD 3.4 3.8 3.7 4.3 3.2 4.3 3.1 0 3.4 2.8
Marital status
b
Two parents, n42 11 9 8 15 2 7 0 11 1
Other family/institution, n12 5 3 1 4 2 0 0 5 2
Total IQ
c
Mean 96.7 103.2 92.2 101 101.8 107.3 99.3 122 92.5 91.7
SD 16.1 23.4 14.2 20.2 13.4 31.4 20.3 0 17.1 28.0
Range 67Y131 61Y129 67Y114 74Y128 79Y129 61Y129 70Y131 0 68Y129 74Y124
Nationality
Dutch, n50 16 10 8 15 4 9 1 16 3
Other, n9221400031
Childhood GID diagnosis, n44 14 12 9 12 3 5 1 15 1
Childhood GID NOS diagnosis, n15 4 0 0 7 1 4 0 4 3
Note: GID = gender identity disorder; NOS = not otherwise specified.
a
Interval denotes the time between childhood assessment and follow-up assessment.
b
For marital status, we asked whether the children were living with two parents or had another family composition. For seven children, there were no data on marital status.
c
IQ was assessed with Dutch versions of the Wechsler Preschool and Primary Scale of Intelligence
17
or the WISC.
18,19
For five boys and two girls, there were no IQ data.
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Twenty-one participants (27%; 9 girls and 12 boys) were still
gender dysphoric at follow-up (persistence group). All of these
persisters had met the complete diagnostic criteria for GID
according to the DSM-IV
10
or the DSM-IV-TR
11
at follow-up
and had applied for sex reassignment at the Gender Identity Clinic
before the age of 16. They had subsequently followed a standardized
diagnostic protocol. This implies that information is obtained from
the adolescents and their parents or caretakers on various aspects of
their general and psychosexual development since the last contact
with the clinic and on their current functioning. The procedure also
includes a psychodiagnostic assessment, a child psychiatric evalua-
tion (by a different clinician than the diagnostician), and often a
family evaluation (for more information on the clinical procedure,
see Reference 21). In this group, we found a significant sex
difference (#
21
= 5.129, p< .05): 50% of the girls and 20% of the
boys had persisting gender dysphoria (Table 1). Because of this
significant sex difference, we analyzed our data separately by sex.
Twenty-three participants (30%; 19 boys, 4 girls) were visited
at home because they had no longer been seen at the clinic after
childhood (desistance group). Ten participants (13%) did not want
to participate themselves, but they allowed their parents to fill out a
questionnaire. This parent group consisted of 9 boys and 1 girl.
Because there were no significant differences between the desistance
group and the parent group for all background variables (marital
status: #
23
= 4.41, p9.05); diagnoses in childhood (#
21
= 0.676, p9
.05); nationality: (#
24
= 2.56, p9.05); full-scale IQ (z=j0.27, p=
.80); and psychological functioning, as measured by the Child
Behavior Checklist (CBCL; total Tscores [z=j0.88, p9.05],
internalizing Tscores [z=j0.84, p9.05], or externalizing Tscores
[z=j1.17, p9.05]), the participants in the parent group were
included in the desistance group. Therefore, the desistance group
consisted of 33 participants (28 boys and 5 girls).
Table 1 shows the background data and age for the children at T
0
and for the four different groups at T
1
. There were no data on
marital status for 7 participants because three parents of adolescents
(parent group) did not provide this information, and for four
children from the nonresponder group, we had no childhood data on
marital status. Furthermore, we had no total IQ scores for 5 boys and
2 girls because their intelligence had not been assessed in childhood.
Three of these boys belonged to the nonresponder group, one boy to
the persistence group, and one boy belonged to the desistance group.
One of the two girls belonged to the persistence group, and the other
to the desistance group. No significant age differences were found
between the groups.
Because there were no differences between the nonresponder and
the desistance group, or between the nonresponder and the parent
group on all scales of the CBCL and on background variables, the
desistance group seems to be representative of all subjects who did
not seek sex reassignment after puberty.
Measures
Background Measures and DSM Diagnosis. Diagnoses and five
background measures were obtained from the medical charts at
childhood assessment: age at assessment, sex, parents’ marital status,
total IQ, and nationality. Information provided by the parents
(clinical interviews on gender development and current gender role
behavior, Gender Identity Questionnaire for Children [GIQC; for a
description of the GIQC, see below]), the child (clinical interviews
on current and past peer and play preferences, gender role behavior
and identity status, Gender Identity Interview for Children [GIIC;
for a description, see below], a standardized play observation, and the
Draw-a-Person test), and teachers (by means of a self-developed
teacher questionnaire and the Teacher’s Report Form, a teacher
version of the CBCL
22
), during a standardized clinical assessment
procedure, was used to determine whether a child met the DSM
criteria for GID
10,11
(for a detailed description of the clinical
procedure and instruments, see Reference 21). The diagnosis was
made by either a clinical child psychologist or a child and adolescent
psychiatrist. IQ was assessed with Dutch versions of the Wechsler
Preschool and Primary Scales of Intelligence
17
or one of two versions
of WISC.
18,19
Gender Identity/Gender Dysphoria. Table 2 provides the study
design. At T
0
, a Dutch translation of the semistructured GIIC of
Zucker et al.
23
was used. This child informant instrument consists
of 12 items and measures two factors: affective gender confusion
and cognitive gender confusion. Higher scores reflect more
gender-atypical responses. Each question is scored on a three-
point scale ranging from 0 to 2. A score of 0 is assigned if the
child answers a factual question correctly (e.g., BAre you a boy or
a girl?[) or gives a putatively normal or stereotypic response (e.g.,
Bno[to the question, BIn your mind, do you ever think that you
would like to be a [opposite sex]?[). A score of 1 is assigned if the
child provides an ambiguous or intermediate response (e.g., BI
don’t know[to the question, BDo you think it is better to be a
boy or a girl?[;Bsometimes[to the question, BIn your mind, do
you ever think that you would like to be a [opposite sex]?[). A
score of 2 is assigned to responses that are putatively atypical and
without ambiguity (e.g., Byes[to the question, BIn your mind, do
you ever think that you would like to be a [opposite sex]?[). The
GIIC strongly discriminated gender-referred children from con-
trols, with a large effect size, using Cohen dof 1.72 for Canadian
probands and of 2.98 for Dutch probands (M.S.C. Wallien,
unpublished data, 2007).
At T
1
, a Dutch translation of the semistructured Gender Identity
Interview for Adolescents and Adults (GIIAA) was used.
24
This
interview has 27 items measuring gender identity and gender
TABLE 2
Study Design
Time Group Age, y Instruments Variable
T
0
All (N= 77) 5Y12 GIIC Gender
GIQC Gender
CBCL Psychological
functioning
T
1
Persistence
group
(n= 21)
16Y24 UGS Gender
BIS Body satisfaction
T
1
Desistance
group
(n= 23)
16Y28 Sexual orientation
questionnaire
Sexual orientation
GIIAA Gender
UGS Gender
BIS Body satisfaction
T
1
Parent group
(n= 10)
16Y25 Parent
questionnaire
Gender and sexual
orientation
Note: GIIC = Gender Identity Interview for Children; GIQC =
Gender Identity Questionnaire for Children; CBCL = Child
Behavior Checklist; UGS = Utrecht Gender Dysphoria Scale;
BIS = Body Image Scale; GIIAA = Gender Identity Interview for
Adolescents and Adults.
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dysphoria in adolescents and adults. Responses, rated on a five-point
scale, are based on a time frame of the past 12 months. Lower scores
reflect more gender-atypical responses. The GIIAA score is
calculated by summing scores on the completed items and dividing
by the number of marked responses. Deogracias et al.
24
reported a
Cronbach !of .97 and found that people with GID reported
significantly more gender dysphoria than both heterosexual and
nonheterosexual nonYgender-dysphoric individuals, indicating good
discriminant validity. Using a cutoff score of 3.00, they found that
the sensitivity was 90.4% for the gender-dysphoric group and the
specificity was 99.7% for the controls.
Gender Identity Questionnaire for Children. The GIQC is a
one-factor, 14-item parent-report questionnaire covering a range of
sex-typed behaviors that correspond to various features of the core
phenomenology of the GID diagnosis. Each item is rated on a five-
point scale for frequency of occurrence, with lower scores reflecting
more cross-gendered behavior.
25
A GIQC score is calculated by
summing the 14 items and then dividing the sum by 14. Johnson
et al.
25
reported that a one-factor solution best fit the data, ac-
counting for 43% of the variance, and that 14 of the 16 items have
factor loadings 0.30 or greater. The GIQC strongly discriminated
gender-referred children from controls, with a large effect size, using
Cohen dof 3.70. With a specificity set at 95% for the controls, the
sensitivity for the probands was 86.8%.
Utrecht Gender Dysphoria Scale (UGS). The UGS measures the
degree of gender dysphoria in adolescents or adults.
26
Reported
Cronbach !’s are .61 and .81 for male and female controls, .80 and
.92 for males with gender dysphoria, and .78 and .80 for females
with gender dysphoria. The scale showed good discriminant validity
in a sample of individuals with and without GID and in gender-
dysphoric individuals who were accepted and rejected for sex
reassignment.
27
The scale consists of 12 items; scores range from 1 to
5, with higher scores reflecting more gender dysphoria.
Body Image Scale (BIS). The BIS,
28
used in a Dutch trans-
lation,
29
measures body satisfaction. On a five-point scale, one has to
indicate satisfaction on 30 body parts and features (e.g., Bneutral[
body parts, such as hands or nose, and various primary and
secondary sex characteristics). A score of 1 indicates the highest
satisfaction regarding the specific body part; a score of 5 indicates the
highest dissatisfaction.
Sexual Orientation. To assess sexual orientation, we used a
questionnaire with nine items. The Sexual Orientation Question-
naire can be found in the supplemental digital content (online-only)
materials at http://links.lww.com/A569. We assessed sexual orienta-
tion in four domains: sexual identity, sexual behavior (experience),
sexual fantasy, and sexual attraction. In each of the domains, the
questions were rated on a seven-point scale ranging from exclusively
heterosexual (0) to exclusively homosexual (6).
30
Items 1 and 2 were
used to rate sexual attraction, items 3 and 4 were used for the
assessment of sexual fantasy, items 5 to 8 assessed sexual behavior,
and item 9 pertained to sexual identity.
Psychological Functioning. To assess whether the desistance group
was representative of all children who do not seek sex reassign-
ment, and to check whether the parent group and desistance
group were comparable with regard to psychological functioning, we
used the Dutch translation of the CBCL.
31,32
This instrument
measures behavioral and emotional problems. Parents (or other
caregivers) have to rate the child/young adult using a three-point
scale: 0 = not true, 1 = somewhat or sometimes true, and 2 = very
true or often true. Depending on age group and sex, Cronbach !’s
for the internalizing, externalizing, and total score scales range from
.78 to .93.
Psychosexual Outcome (Parent Report). This questionnaire consists
of nine questions covering gender identity and sexual orientation of
the participant, as observed by the parent. This instrument was used
only if participants were not available for assessment at follow-up.
Procedure
Childhood Assessment (T
0
). Childhood measures were collected as
part of the child’s clinical assessment at the Gender Identity Clinic.
Four of the obtained measures were used: the CBCL, total IQ, the
GIQC, and the GIIC. Background information was also collected
during clinical assessment.
Follow-up (T
1
). All children in the persistence group had applied
for sex reassignment at the Gender Identity Clinic before the age of
16 and had followed the clinic’s standardized diagnostic procedure.
21
The assessment of the persisters took place during this procedure. All
had subsequently been treated with GnRH analogs to suppress
puberty and with cross-sex hormones after the age of 16 years. At our
clinic, GnRH analogs are used as an aide in the diagnostic procedure
(for a description of the eligibility criteria, see Reference 13).
The other adolescents received a letter in which the purpose of the
study was explained. Although many participants were older than
18 years, we contacted the parents first and asked their permission to
contact their child. We did so because the last clinical contact had
been with them rather than with the child, and we did not want to
approach their children without their consent. If the parents gave
their permission, and the adolescent wanted to participate, we visited
the participants at home. If the adolescent did not want to
participate, we asked if they would allow their parents to fill out a
questionnaire, the Parent Questionnaire on Psychosexual Outcome.
Two measures, UGS and BIS, were obtained from both the
adolescents who were visited at home and the adolescents who were
seen at the clinic because of their persistent gender dysphoria. In
addition, the GIIAA and the sexual orientation questionnaire were
administered to the participants who were seen at home. Informa-
tion on sexual orientation of the participants who applied for sex
reassignment was gathered during the clinical procedure. Questions
were part of a semistructured clinical interview.
The ethical committees of the University Medical Center Utrecht
and VU University Medical Center approved the study.
RESULTS
T
0
: Childhood Gender Dysphoria
The percentages of DSM GID or GID NOS di-
agnoses were significantly different between the persis-
tence and the desistance groups (#
22
= 10.90, p= .004)
and between the persistence and the nonresponder
groups (#
21
= 7.6, p= .006). All participants in the
persistence group were given a diagnosis of GID. This
was not the case in the other two groups (Table 1).
When all nonpersisting groups were taken together,
69% had a GID diagnosis.
For the boys, the percentages of DSM GID or GID
NOS diagnoses were also significantly different between
the persistence and the desistance groups (#
22
= 6.50,
p= .011). There were no significant differences between
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the desistance and the nonresponder groups, or between
the persistence and the nonresponder groups. Among the
girls, the percentages of DSM diagnoses of GID or GID
NOS were significantly different between the persisting
and the nonresponding girls (#
21
= 8.775, p= .003), but
not between the persisting and desisting girls (Table 1).
With regard to the scores on the GIIC and GIQC,
persisters generally showed more cross-gender behavior
than the other groups. The persistence group had a sig-
nificantly higher mean GIIC score (mean 12.2) than the
desistance group (mean 7.6; z=j2.35, p= .02) and the
nonresponder group (mean 8.9; z=j2.01, p= .04).
This indicates more cross-gender identification in the
total persistence group than in the desistance group
(Table 3). The persisters had a significantly lower mean
GIQC score than the desisters (z=j2.782, p= .005)
and the nonresponders (z=j2.82, p= .005), again
reflecting more cross-gender identification in childhood
in the persistence group than in the desistance and the
nonresponder groups.
Among the boys, the scores on both the GIIC and the
GIQC indicated that the persisting subgroup had a
more cross-gender identification and that the persisters
showed a more cross-gender behavior in childhood than
the desisting boys. Among the girls, the scores on both
the GIIC and the GIQC indicated that the persisting
girls had a more cross-gender identification and showed
more cross-gender behavior than the nonresponding
girls but not the desisting girls (Table 3).
T
1
: Gender Dysphoria
At T
1
, all participants in the persistence group had
been given a DSM diagnosis of GID. The desistance
group did not have a second clinical assessment, but
their mean GIIAA scores (1.1) and their UGS scores
indicated that they no longer had gender-dysphoric
TABLE 4
Mean Scores on the Gender Identity Interview for Adolescents and Adults and on the Utrecht Gender Dysphoria Scale
and the Body Image Scale at T
1
Persistence Desistance
Persistence-
Desistance, p
Scale All Boys Girls All Boys Girls All Boys Girls
GIIAA n=17 n=3
Divided score, mean (SD) 1.2 (0.2) 1.1 (0.2)
Total score, mean (SD) 31.8 (4.8) 30.1 (6.4)
UGS n=12 n=5n=7n=1 n=19 n =2
Total score, mean (SD) 53.5 (7.4) 50.6 (10.6) 55.6 (3.8) 13.6 (3.0) 13.6 (3.1) 13.0 (1.4) .001 .001 .004
BIS n=16 n=9 n=7 n=17 n=14 n=3
Total score, mean (SD) 3.1 (0.4) 3.1 (0.4) 3.1 (0.5) 2.5 (0.5) 2.4 (0.3) 2.5 (1.0) .001 .001 NS
Note: Desistance group consists of children who had not applied for sex reassignment when approached by us at 16 years or older. Persistence
group consists of children who were still gender dysphoric at 16 years or older. Values are cited in italics. GIIAA = Gender Identity Interview for
Adolescents and Adults; UGS = Utrecht Gender Dysphoria Scale; BIS = Body Image Scale; NS = not statistically significant.
TABLE 3
Mean Scores on the Gender Identity Interview for Children and the Gender Identity Questionnaire at T
0
Persistence,
Mean (SD)
Desistance,
Mean (SD)
Nonresponders,
Mean (SD)
Desistance-
Persistence,
p
Desistance-
Nonresponders,
p
Nonresponders-
Persistence,
p
Scale
Boys
(n= 12)
Girls
(n=9)
Boys
(n= 19)
Girls
(n=4)
Boys
(n= 19)
Girls
(n= 4) Boys Girls Boys Girls Boys Girls
GIIC n=9 n=8 n=19 n=3 n=18 n= 3 .02 NS NS NS NS .02
11.6 (4.6) 12.9 (1.8) 7.2 (4.7) 11.3 (5.5) 9.3 (5.4) 6.7 (4.5)
GIQC n=11 n=7 n=19 n=4 n=16 n= 3 .008 NS NS NS 0.02 .03
2.1 (0.4) 2.2 (0.6) 2.6 (0.6) 2.9 (0.4) 2.6 (0.7) 3.2 (0.4)
Note: GIIC = Gender Identity Interview for Children; GIQC = Gender Identity Questionnaire for Children; NS = not statistically significant.
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feelings at follow-up (Table 4). With regard to the UGS,
it was found that the persistence group had significantly
more gender dysphoria than the desistance group (z=
j4.81, p= .001; Table 4). This was also found when
separately analyzed for boys and girls (boys: z=j3.51,
p= .001; girls: z=j2.06, p= .004).
As expected, the persistence group also reported
significantly more body dissatisfaction on the BIS (z=
j3.62, p= .001; Table 4) than the participants in the
desistance group. The desistance group reported, on
average, dissatisfaction with four body parts, and the
participants in the persistence group reported, on
average, dissatisfaction with nine body parts. Most
participants in the persistence group were dissatisfied
with their primary and secondary sex characteristics and
height. Most of the subjects in the desistance group were
dissatisfied with Bsex neutral[body characteristics such
as nose, shoulders, or feet, and they were satisfied with
their primary sex characteristics. Analyzed separately for
the sexes, the persisting boys reported more body
dissatisfaction than the desisting boys (z=j3.5, p=
.001), whereas this was not found for the girls.
T
1
: Sexual Orientation
Table 5 shows the data on sexual orientation at
follow-up. Participants were classified in the following
way, according to their scores on sexual fantasy, sexual
attraction, and sexual behavior: heterosexual (Kinsey
rating 0Y1), bisexual (Kinsey rating 2Y4), and homo-
sexual (Kinsey rating 5Y6).
30
The participants also rated
their sexual identity as heterosexual, bisexual, or
homosexual. In the parent group, only the parents’
ideas about their children’s sexual attraction feelings
could be asked for. We therefore have more participants
who are rated on the sexual attraction dimension than
on the other sexual orientation dimensions.
On the sexual attraction dimension, about half of the
boys (n= 25) in the desistance group were attracted to
men (n= 14), and the others (n= 11) were attracted to
women. Almost all natal boys in the persistence group
(n= 11) were attracted to men; only one natal boy
reported to be attracted to women. All persisting girls
were attracted to women, and all desisting girls were
attracted to men.
On the sexual identity dimension, half of the boys in
the desistance group reported having a homosexual
identity, three boys reported a bisexual identity, and
one-third reported a heterosexual identity. All desisting
girls reported having a heterosexual identity. Because we
classified sexual orientation in relation to birth sex, all
natal boys and almost all natal girls in the persistence
group reported a homosexual identity. Only one natal
girl in the persistence group classified herself as bisexual,
although she reported that she was attracted to girls.
TABLE 5
Percentage Participants Who Rated Themselves on Three Dimensions of Sexual Orientation and on Sexual Identity
Attraction Behavior Fantasy Sexual Identity
Group Boys Girls Boys Girls Boys Girls Boys Girls
Desistance n=25 n=3 n=13 n=2 n=16 n=1 n=18 n=3
Heterosexual 44 100 23 100 19 100 27 100
Bisexual 0 0 23 0 25 0 17 0
Homosexual 56 0 54 0 56 0 56 0
Persistence n=12 n=7 n=6 n=3 n=5 n=2 n=9 n=8
Heterosexual 8 0 17 0 17 0 0 0
Bisexual 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 12
Homosexual 92 100 83 100 83 100 100 88
Combined group of gender-dysphoric children n=37 n=10 n=19 n=5 n=21 n=3 n=27 n=11
Heterosexual 32 30 21 40 19 0 19 18
Bisexual 0 0 16 0 19 33 19 9
Homosexual 68 70 63 60 62 66 62 73
Normative study n= 1,628 n= 1,676 n= 1,618 n= 1,670 n= 1,624 n= 1,674
Heterosexual 96 98 94 83 91 76
Homosexual 3 1 6 17 9 24
Note: The percentages are in relation to birth sex. In the combined group, the percentages of children in the Persistence and the Desistance
groups are combined. The normative data are from a study by de Graaf et al.
33
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We also compared our sexual orientation findings
with prevalence estimates from a large Dutch study
among 3,304 adolescents and young adults (age range
12Y25 years).
33
Table 5 shows that, in all our groups,
there were considerably more adolescents with a
nonheterosexual sexual orientation than in the non-
referred Dutch adolescents. In our study group, the
overall odds of reporting same-sex or bisexual attraction
was 2.1 (32 of the 47 children reported same-sex
attraction, and 15 were attracted to the opposite sex: 32/
15 = 2.1; for the natal males, it was 2.1; for the natal
females, 2.3). This percentage would even be higher if
one assumes that most nonresponders may also have a
homosexual sexual orientation. Adult individuals with
childhood gender dysphoria are thus much more likely
to have a nonheterosexual sexual orientation than a
heterosexual sexual orientation. In the normative study,
the odds of same-sex or bisexual attraction was 0.02 (68
of the 3,268 children reported same-sex or bisexual
attraction; for the males, it was 0.03; for the females,
0.04). This implies that it is about 100 times more likely
that someone with childhood gender dysphoria is
attracted to partners of the same sex or to both sexes
than someone without a gender-dysphoric history.
Participants (both persisters and desisters) who were
rated differently on the Kinsey dimensions did not differ
in age at T
0
or at T
1
. There was one significant
difference between the GIQC score of the participants
with same-sex or bisexual attraction and the participants
with a heterosexual attraction (z=j2.53, p= .01). The
participants with same-sex or bisexual attraction had a
lower score (mean 2.26) than the participants with a
heterosexual attraction (mean 2.78). This indicates
more parent-reported gender atypicality in childhood in
participants with same-sex or bisexual attraction than in
participants with a heterosexual attraction. However,
when we analyzed the GIQC scores of participants in
the desistance group only, we found no significant
differences between the participants with same-sex or
bisexual attraction and the participants with hetero-
sexual attraction. Therefore, the more extreme scores of
the persisters were responsible for the total group
difference on the GIQC.
DISCUSSION
This study investigated the psychosexual outcome
among gender-dysphoric children and determined
whether childhood characteristics gave an indication of
later GID. We found that 27% of our total group of
gender-dysphoric children was still gender dysphoric in
adolescence. In the Netherlands, treatment is covered by
insurance and easily available, but only in the
Amsterdam clinic. It therefore seems unlikely that
some nonresponders are, in fact, persisters, and that the
observed persistence rate of 27% differs much from the
actual persistence rate.
For boys, our percentage of persisting gender
dysphoria was similar to what Zucker and Bradley
8
reported: one of five boys was still gender dysphoric in
adolescence/young adulthood. For girls, we found a
much higher percentage of persisters than was found in
the only follow-up study on girls by Drummond et al.
16
In our study, 50% of the gender-dysphoric girls seemed
to be persisters, whereas Drummond et al.
16
found that
only 12% of gender-dysphoric girls seemed to have
persistent gender dysphoria. Our higher rate of
persisting girls could perhaps be explained by differences
in childhood cross-gender behavior between the
Canadian and Dutch referred children. Although no
direct comparison between the girls in the Drummond
et al.
16
study and our follow-up study could be made
with respect to their scores on the GIIC, a study
comparing 376 Canadian and 228 Dutch gender-
referred children from both centers reported that the
Dutch girls scored significantly higher on the GIIC than
the Canadian girls (M.S.C. Wallien, unpublished data,
2007). However, the percentages of girls fulfilling the
childhood GID criteria in the study of Drummond et al.
(64%) and our study (77%) were not significantly
different. In another study, it was found that Dutch
children are, on average, referred for gender problems at
an older age than Canadian children.
34
It may thus be
that a combination of a relatively late age at referral and
severity of gender-dysphoria accounts for the differences
between the rates of female persisters in the two studies.
Because these are reports from only two studies with
relatively small numbers of female participants, it is, of
course, possible that the percentages of females with
persisting gender dysphoria will change when larger
samples are studied.
We also found that both boys and girls with more
extreme gender dysphoria were more likely to develop
adolescent/adult GID, whereas children with less
extreme gender dysphoria seemed to have overcome
their gender dysphoria. For example, all participants in
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the persistence group were given a complete GID
diagnosis in childhood, whereas half of the group of
desisting children was subthreshold for the diagnosis
(Table 1). The diagnoses were partly based on a number
of parent and child measures (GIIC and GIQC scores),
and scores on these instruments also fairly consistently
indicated that the persisters showed more childhood
gender atypicality than the desisters. Comparing the
scores separately for the sexes, similar results were found,
although not all comparisons were significant. However,
this may have been due to the sometimes small numbers
in the various subgroups. Taking all results together, it
seems that certain childhood gender identity and gender
role measures may give an indication of gender
dysphoria persistence after puberty. Clinicians should
therefore take child and parent reports of cross-gender
identification and behavior seriously, to address them in
a timely manner when the subjects enter adolescence. It
is conceivable that, in the future, persisting children will
be identified and treated with GnRH analogs, even
before the actual beginning of puberty. However, at the
moment, their reaction to the first physical signs of
puberty is still used diagnostically. Clearly, many more
studies are needed before one can make any evidence-
based recommendations about hormonal interventions
in prepubertal children.
With regard to sexual orientation, almost all per-
sisters seemed to be attracted to someone of the same
biological sex at follow-up, whereas in the desistance
group, this was found for only about half of the
participants. In total (persistence and desistance groups
together), two-thirds of the participants reported hav-
ing a same-sex or bisexual attraction. This high per-
centage of nonheterosexuality is similar to what has
been reported in other follow-up studies.
1Y8
Compared
with sexual orientation rates from a Dutch normative
study, both our boys and girls were far more likely to
have a bisexual or homosexual sexual orientation.
Childhood gender dysphoria thus seems to be associ-
ated with a high rate of later same-sex or bisexual sex-
ual orientation. In clinical practice, gender-dysphoric
children and their parents should be made aware of
such an outcome and, if this would create problems,
be adequately counseled.
Because almost all persisters reported having same-sex
sexual attractions, there were no sex differences in this
group. However, in the desistance group, half of the
boys reported a homosexual or bisexual sexual orienta-
tion, whereas none of the desisting girls did. In contrast
to our findings, Drummond et al.
16
found much higher
rates of desisting girls with either a homosexual or
bisexual sexual orientation. Their rates for either a
homosexual or bisexual sexual orientation in fantasy and
behavior were 30% (6 of 20) and 26% (4 of 15). This
difference can probably be attributed to the fact that our
sample size of desisting girls was small (n= 3) and that
two of our desisting girls (16 years of age) mentioned
that they were still questioning their sexuality. If one of
the two would, at an older age, seem to be homosexual,
the numbers would be much more comparable. All of
the desisting homosexual/bisexual girls in the study of
Drummond et al.
16
were older than 23. Thus, it is
possible that these girls were more Bcrystallized[with
respect to their sexual identities. A study by Diamond
35
showed that it is not uncommon for nonheterosexual
adolescent girls to change their sexual orientation over
time. In her 2-year follow-up study of 80 lesbian,
bisexual, and Bunlabeled[women, first interviewed at
16 to 23 years of age, half of the women seemed to
change their sexual identities more than once, and one-
third changed their sexual identity since the first
interview. Changes in sexual attraction were small but
were larger among bisexuals and Bunlabeled[females.
Considering this, it is possible that the apparent
differences between our results and those of Drummond
et al.
16
are, in fact, nonexistent.
Research on the sexual identity development of
lesbian, gay, and bisexual youths has shown that the
sexual orientation, especially for bisexual youths, may
change over time.
36,37
Our results on sexual orientation
also suggest that some male participants were still in an
experimentation phase, as the percentage of participants
reporting a heterosexual or bisexual orientation differs
between the three dimensions of sexual orientation.
Furthermore, social desirability is a key validity issue in
the assessment of sexual orientation during the
adolescent years. One limitation of this study is that
we did not measure the participants’ propensity to give
socially desirable responses, because we did not want to
lose cooperation by making the follow-up session
unnecessarily long and tedious. Therefore, it is possible
that some of our Bheterosexual[adolescents were, in
fact, attracted to people of the same sex. Even if this
were not true, the prevalence rates of same-sex attraction
in our study are still substantially higher than in the
general population.
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Carver et al.
38
assumed that gender atypicality may
precede the development of a homosexual identity as
such. Drummond et al.
16
indeed found that the
participants with a bisexual or homosexual orientation
recalled more cross-gender behavior during childhood
than the participants with a heterosexual or asexual
sexual orientation. Although our persisting and desisting
participants taken together with a homosexual or
bisexual sexual orientation were more cross-gendered
in childhood than the participants with a heterosexual
sexual orientation, we did not find any significant
differences on the childhood measurements between the
desisting participants with different sexual orientation
outcomes. It is, however, possible that our results did
not reach statistical significance because of the small
sample sizes. Conversely, in retrospective reports, there
is always a risk of memory distortion. It is clear that
long-term prospective follow-up studies, in which
gender nonconformity is measured in large normative
samples of young children, and psychosexual outcome
in adolescence or adulthood, are needed to gain more
insight in the relationship between childhood gender
nonconformity and sexual orientation.
In response to our question at what point in time the
desisting participants noticed that their cross-gender
preferences and feelings had decreased or disappeared,
most answered that the change took place upon entry
into secondary school. Only few answered that it took
place during the first stages of puberty. It is under-
standable that an intensification or moderation of the
gender dysphoria is closely related to the development of
the physical markers of maleness and femaleness. Why
most participants reported entrance into secondary
school as a Bturning point[is less clear. It may be that
secondary school entrance is better remembered than
the start of puberty because puberty concerns a more
gradual transition. More systematic follow-up every few
years, especially around critical developmental time
points (i.e., school entry, pubescent milestones such as
menarche or first ejaculation), is needed to know better
exactly when and how GID persistence or desistance
takes place.
39
Disclosure: The authors report no conflicts of interest.
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Prospective Effects of Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder, Conduct Disorder, and Sex on Adolescent Substance Use
and Abuse Elkins IJ, McGue M, Iacono WG
Context: Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), an early manifestation of externalizing behavior, may identify
children at high risk for later substance abuse. However, the ADHD-substance abuse relationship often disappears when co-
occurring conduct disorder (CD) is considered. Objective: To determine whether there is a prospective relationship between
ADHD and the initiation of substance use and disorders, and whether this relationship depends on the ADHD subtype
(hyperactive/impulsive or inattentive), CD, or sex. Design, Setting, and Participants: Dimensional and categorical measures of
ADHD and CD were examined via logistic regression analyses in relation to subsequent initiation of tobacco, alcohol, and
illicit drug use by 14 years of age and onset of substance use disorders by 18 years of age in a population-based sample of 11-
year-old twins (760 female and 752 male twins) from the Minnesota Twin Family Study. Main Outcome Measures: Structured
interviews were administered to adolescents and their mothers regarding substance use and to generate diagnoses. Results: For
boys and girls, hyperactivity/impulsivity predicted initiation of all types of substance use, nicotine dependence, and cannabis
abuse/dependence (for all, p G .05), even when controlling for CD at 2 time points. By contrast, relationships between
inattention and substance outcomes disappeared when hyperactivity/impulsivity and CD were controlled for, with the possible
exception of nicotine dependence. A categorical diagnosis of ADHD significantly predicted tobacco and illicit drug use only
(adjusted odds ratios, 2.01 and 2.82, respectively). A diagnosis of CD between 11 and 14 years of age was a powerful predictor
of substance disorders by 18 years of age (all odds ratios, 94.27). Conclusions: Hyperactivity/impulsivity predicts later substance
problems, even after growth in later-emerging CD is considered, whereas inattention alone poses less risk. Even a single
symptom of ADHD or CD is associated with increased risk. Failure in previous research to consistently observe relationships
between ADHD and substance use and abuse outcomes could be due to reliance on less-sensitive categorical diagnoses.
Reproduced with permission from Archives of General Psychiatry, 2007;64(10): 1145Y1152. Copyright Ó2007, American
Medical Association. All rights reserved.
FOLLOW-UP OF GENDER-DYSPHORIC CHILDREN
WWW.JAACAP.COM 1423J. AM. ACAD. CHILD ADOLESC. PSYCHIATRY, 47:12, DECEMBER 2008
... No entanto apenas numa pequena minoria persiste na adolescência Steensma, McGuire, Kreukels, et al., 2013). A maioria das crianças com esta condição de baixa intensidade e menor persistência desenvolve uma orientação homossexual ou bissexual (Kreukels & Cohen-Kettenis, 2011;Wallien & Cohen-Kettenis, 2008). A DG/IG é mais provável persistir na adolescência quando esta foi extrema na infância (Steensma, McGuire, Kreukels, et al., 2013;Wallien & Cohen-Kettenis, 2008 ...
... A maioria das crianças com esta condição de baixa intensidade e menor persistência desenvolve uma orientação homossexual ou bissexual (Kreukels & Cohen-Kettenis, 2011;Wallien & Cohen-Kettenis, 2008). A DG/IG é mais provável persistir na adolescência quando esta foi extrema na infância (Steensma, McGuire, Kreukels, et al., 2013;Wallien & Cohen-Kettenis, 2008 ...
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Pereira, H. (2022). Relacionamentos em pessoas LGBTQIA+. In S. Neves & M. Correia, Investigação e prática: Abordagens interdisciplinares sobre a saúde e o bem-estar das pessoas LGBTI+ (pp. 14-42). Associação Plano I.
... No entanto apenas numa pequena minoria persiste na adolescência Steensma, McGuire, Kreukels, et al., 2013). A maioria das crianças com esta condição de baixa intensidade e menor persistência desenvolve uma orientação homossexual ou bissexual (Kreukels & Cohen-Kettenis, 2011;Wallien & Cohen-Kettenis, 2008). A DG/IG é mais provável persistir na adolescência quando esta foi extrema na infância (Steensma, McGuire, Kreukels, et al., 2013;Wallien & Cohen-Kettenis, 2008 ...
... A maioria das crianças com esta condição de baixa intensidade e menor persistência desenvolve uma orientação homossexual ou bissexual (Kreukels & Cohen-Kettenis, 2011;Wallien & Cohen-Kettenis, 2008). A DG/IG é mais provável persistir na adolescência quando esta foi extrema na infância (Steensma, McGuire, Kreukels, et al., 2013;Wallien & Cohen-Kettenis, 2008 ...
Chapter
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Ferreira, E. (2022). (In)visibilidades LGBTI+. In S. Neves e M. Ferreira (Org.), Investigação e prática: Abordagens interdisciplinares sobre a saúde e o bem-estar das pessoas LGBTI+. (pp. 43-64). Associação Plano I. A legislação de direitos de pessoas LGBTI+ em Portugal teve avanços significativos nos últimos anos. No entanto, a legislação por si só não é suficiente para promover mudanças ao nível da discriminação social. São necessárias políticas de igualdade. E ao nível das políticas de igualdade, só a partir de 2011 os planos de igualdade em Portugal começaram a incluir de forma consistente medidas de combate à discriminação com base na orientação sexual e identidade de género. Embora muitas áreas da vida das pessoas LGBTI+ tenham tido alterações profundas com a adoção de legislação mais inclusiva, a invisibilidade no espaço público em diversos contextos de vida continua a ser uma realidade dominante. A forte pressão da sociedade para confinar e esconder os comportamentos afetivos entre pessoas do mesmo sexo dentro de espaços privados é uma das formas de discriminação social mais comum. A sexualidade não é uma característica da vida privada, é um processo de relações de poder que medeia todas as nossas interações quotidianas, e discursos hegemónicos, como a heteronormatividade, estão literalmente inscritos no espaço. Também ao nível da produção académica em Portugal podemos falar de invisibilidade dos estudos LGBTI+, sendo quase inexistentes as ofertas curriculares nas ciências sociais especificamente focadas nas sexualidades LGBTI+. Refletir sobre futuros possíveis, no contexto social e político mundial atual, também é equacionar os riscos de retrocessos dos direitos LGBTI+. Para uma mudança positiva, consolidação dos aspetos legais e o aprofundar das mudanças sociais, é fundamental a ação conjunta das políticas de igualdade, do ativismo e da academia.
... The majority, retrospectively, report having had feelings of discomfort since childhood [7]. Nevertheless, adolescents who experienced discomfort in childhood, only 27% continued into adolescence, while 43% no longer showed it [5]. The insistence to dress in the clothes of the sex they want is also common. ...
... Nevertheless, there is a correlation between this phenomenon and sexual orientation. In a study by, which included 77 children (59 boys and 18 girls) with a mean age 8.4 years, their transgender identity and behavior and dissatisfaction with their biological sex and the role it entailed were measured and recorded [5]. In the follow-up after about 10 years, 27% (12 boys, 9 girls) remained dissatisfied with their biological sex and 43% (28 boys, 5 girls) were identified with their biological sex. ...
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This paper is a literature review of scientific articles covering a period from 1970 to 2020. It addresses the issue of gender identity disorder in children, adolescents and young adults. The purpose of this paper is to present the issue of gender disorder, through the prism of modern psychological data. Reference is made to the etiology, the clinical picture.
... However, this inclusion ignores the uncertainty surrounding the condition's outcome in adulthood. [65,66] ...
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Gender dysphoria (GD) is a condition where one feels distressed about one’s assigned gender at birth. The construct has undergone successive revisions in understanding and terminology in contemporary classificatory systems. Currently, the terms “GD” and “gender incongruence” are used in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders‑5 and International Classification of Diseases‑11, respectively. However, there continues to be a lack of clarity on terminologies used in describing related concepts. Sex is an inflexible categorical concept, whereas gender is a social construct. It is vital to understand and distinguish between sexual orientation and gender identity. Clarity in understanding and usage of these and other related terms in the field is central to addressing the issue of stigma faced by the members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, asexual+ (LGBTQIA+) community, an umbrella term used to denote individuals with nonconformative gender identity and orientation. Several clinical and ethical issues exist with diagnosing and managing GD such as optimal treatment of minors, fertility after gender affirming treatments, and dissatisfaction following gender reassignment. To clarify these issues and facilitate access to care for LGBTQIA+ individuals, the GD category has been retained in the classificatory systems despite activists calling for dropping the term from diagnostic manuals to minimize associated stigma. Other controversies in the area include inclusion of childhood GD diagnosis on the grounds of uncertainty of longitudinal trajectory of the clinical phenomenon and use of nonevidence‑based, potentially harmful, treatments such as “conversion therapies.” There is a need to sensitize clinicians about these issues and mainstream them in the assessment and management of GD. Such an approach would aid development of culturally sensitive and evidence‑based treatments for gender variance.
... Our key finding -that there was a relatively low rate of retransition about five years after initial social transition -may, on the surface, appear contradictory with past clinic-based research on what is sometimes called "persistence and desistence" 3 of childhood gender dysphoria. Several large studies attempted to recontact adolescents and adults who had previously been evaluated for gender dysphoria in childhood [14][15][16][17] . Many of those were formally diagnosed with what was, at the time, called Gender Identity Disorder. ...
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BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVES Concerns about early childhood social transitions amongst transgender youth include that these youth may later change their gender identification (i.e., retransition), a process that could be distressing. The present study aimed to provide the first estimate of retransitioning and to report the current gender identities of youth an average of 5 years after their initial social transitions. METHODS The present study examined the rate of retransition and current gender identities of 317 initially-transgender youth (208 transgender girls, 109 transgender boys; M=8.1 years at start of study) participating in a longitudinal study, the Trans Youth Project. Data were reported by youth and their parents through in-person or online visits or via email or phone correspondence. RESULTS We found that an average of 5 years after their initial social transition, 7.3% of youth had retransitioned at least once. At the end of this period, most youth identified as binary transgender youth (94%), including 1.3% who retransitioned to another identity before returning to their binary transgender identity. 2.5% of youth identified as cisgender and 3.5% as nonbinary. Later cisgender identities were more common amongst youth whose initial social transition occurred before age 6 years; the retransition often occurred before age 10. CONCLUSIONS These results suggest that retransitions are infrequent. More commonly, transgender youth who socially transitioned at early ages continued to identify that way. Nonetheless, understanding retransitions is crucial for clinicians and families to help make them as smooth as possible for youth.
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Background: Transgender healthcare is a rapidly evolving interdisciplinary field. In the last decade, there has been an unprecedented increase in the number and visibility of transgender and gender diverse (TGD) people seeking support and gender-affirming medical treatment in parallel with a significant rise in the scientific literature in this area. The World Professional Association for Transgender Health (WPATH) is an international, multidisciplinary, professional association whose mission is to promote evidence-based care, education, research, public policy, and respect in transgender health. One of the main functions of WPATH is to promote the highest standards of health care for TGD people through the Standards of Care (SOC). The SOC was initially developed in 1979 and the last version (SOC-7) was published in 2012. In view of the increasing scientific evidence, WPATH commissioned a new version of the Standards of Care, the SOC-8. Aim: The overall goal of SOC-8 is to provide health care professionals (HCPs) with clinical guidance to assist TGD people in accessing safe and effective pathways to achieving lasting personal comfort with their gendered selves with the aim of optimizing their overall physical health, psychological well-being, and self-fulfillment. Methods: The SOC-8 is based on the best available science and expert professional consensus in transgender health. International professionals and stakeholders were selected to serve on the SOC-8 committee. Recommendation statements were developed based on data derived from independent systematic literature reviews, where available, background reviews and expert opinions. Grading of recommendations was based on the available evidence supporting interventions, a discussion of risks and harms, as well as the feasibility and acceptability within different contexts and country settings. Results: A total of 18 chapters were developed as part of the SOC-8. They contain recommendations for health care professionals who provide care and treatment for TGD people. Each of the recommendations is followed by explanatory text with relevant references. General areas related to transgender health are covered in the chapters Terminology, Global Applicability, Population Estimates, and Education. The chapters developed for the diverse population of TGD people include Assessment of Adults, Adolescents, Children, Nonbinary, Eunuchs, and Intersex Individuals, and people living in Institutional Environments. Finally, the chapters related to gender-affirming treatment are Hormone Therapy, Surgery and Postoperative Care, Voice and Communication, Primary Care, Reproductive Health, Sexual Health, and Mental Health. Conclusions: The SOC-8 guidelines are intended to be flexible to meet the diverse health care needs of TGD people globally. While adaptable, they offer standards for promoting optimal health care and guidance for the treatment of people experiencing gender incongruence. As in all previous versions of the SOC, the criteria set forth in this document for gender-affirming medical interventions are clinical guidelines; individual health care professionals and programs may modify these in consultation with the TGD person.
Article
Background Over the last decade medical care for transgender youth has improved. Gonadotropin-Releasing-Hormone-Analogues (GnRHa) stop and delay puberty and can relieve the distress of gender dysphoria (GD). Only a few adolescents treated with GnRHa desist from GD, thus systematic and in-depth investigations are missing. Case Presentation A case of peripubertal onset gender dysphoria (12;4 years) is presented. It illustrates the desistance from GD after a 15-month-treatment with GnRHa. The blocking of puberty lead to a reduction of GD, the process of gender identity development still continued, leading to a non-binary outcome. Conclusion This case report illustrates that after treatment with puberty blockers desistance from gender dysphoria can occur. In this individual case, GnRHa did not „block“ the ongoing process of gender identity formation in psychosexual development. Thus, puberty suppression is a reversible treatment option that can be seen as a meaningful step to prepare the readiness for partially irreversible gender-affirming hormone treatment.
Article
Between 2.5%–8.4% of children and adolescents worldwide identify as transgender or gender-diverse and rates are increasing over time.1 This increase is accompanied by a rise in the number of families seeking advice on how to address gender concerns among their children and adolescents.2-4 Many providers have limited experience caring for this population and it can be difficult for them to provide advice and treatment.5-7
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The present study reports on the construction of a dimensional measure of gender identity (gender dysphoria) for adolescents and adults. The 27-item gender identity/gender dysphoria questionnaire for adolescents and adults (GID YQ-AA) was administered to 389 university); students (heterosexual and nonheterosexual) and 73 clinic-referred patients with gender identity disorder. Principal axis factor analysis indicated that a one-factor solution, accounting for 61.3% of the total variance, best fits the data. Factor loadings were all >= 30 (median,.82; range,.34-96). A mean total score (Cronbach's alpha,.97) was computed, which showed strong evidence for discriminant validity in that the gender identity patients had significantly more gender dysphoria than both the heterosexual and nonheterosexual university students. Using a cut-point of 3.00, we found the sensitivity was 90.4% for the gender identity patients and specificity was 99.7% for the controls. The utility of the GIDYQ-AA is discussed.
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Treatment outcome in transsexuals is expected to be more favourable when puberty is suppressed than when treatment is started after Tanner stage 4 or 5. In the Dutch protocol for the treatment of transsexual adolescents, candidates are considered eligible for the suppression of endogenous puberty when they fulfil the Diagnostic and Statistic Manual of Mental Disorders-IV-RT criteria for gender disorder, have suffered from lifelong extreme gender dysphoria, are psychologically stable and live in a supportive environment. Suppression of puberty should be considered as supporting the diagnostic procedure, but not as the ultimate treatment. If the patient, after extensive exploring of his/her sex reassignment (SR) wish, no longer pursues SR, pubertal suppression can be discontinued. Otherwise, cross-sex hormone treatment can be given at 16 years, if there are no contraindications. Treatment consists of a GnRH analogue (GnRHa) to suppress endogenous gonadal stimulation from B2-3 and G3-4, and prevents development of irreversible sex characteristics of the unwanted sex. From the age of 16 years, cross-sex steroid hormones are added to the GnRHa medication. Preliminary findings suggest that a decrease in height velocity and bone maturation occurs. Body proportions, as measured by sitting height and sitting-height/height ratio, remains in the normal range. Total bone density remains in the same range during the years of puberty suppression, whereas it significantly increases on cross-sex steroid hormone treatment. GnRHa treatment appears to be an important contribution to the clinical management of gender identity disorder in transsexual adolescents.
Article
Previous research suggests that the sexual identities, attractions, and behaviors of sexual-minority (i.e., nonheterosexual) women change over time, yet there have been few longitudinal studies addressing this question, and no longitudinal studies of sexual-minority youths. The results of 2-year follow-up interviews with 80 lesbian, bisexual, and "unlabeled" women who were first interviewed at 16-23 years of age are reported. Half of the participants changed sexual-minority identities more than once, and one third changed identities since the first interview. Changes in sexual attractions were generally small but were larger among bisexuals and unlabeled women. Most women pursued sexual behavior consistent with their attractions, but one fourth of lesbians had sexual contact with men between the two interviews. These findings suggest that there is more fluidity in women's sexual identities and behaviors than in their attractions. This fluidity may stem from the prevalence of nonexclusive attractions among sexual-minority women.
Article
Nine of 11 boys with prepubertal discordance of gender identity/role have been maintained in follow-up until young adulthood. All are known to be homosexual or predominantly so. None is known to be either a transvestite or transexual, though one formerly began the real-life test for transexualism and quit after 6 weeks. All nine have completed some postsecondary education, and all are well-achieved or better, occupationally. Secondary psycho-pathology in adulthood has not been obviously manifest. There was a consensus in adulthood that the nonjudgmentalism of those responsible for their follow-up over the years had had a strongly positive therapeutic effect on the boys' personal development.
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We examined predictors of movement toward more homosexual sexual feelings among behaviorally bisexual men. Two hundred sixteen behaviorally bisexual men, recruited from diverse sources, were interviewed twice, with about one year between interviews. Predictor variables from domains of mental health, sexual behavior, demographics, and substance use were hypothesized to predict movement toward more homosexual sexual feelings. The sample as a whole moved toward the homosexual end of self‐rated sexual orientation from Time 1 to Time 2, although only about one third of the individual respondents did so. The men who moved toward homosexuality reported lower levels of depression and anxiety and higher self‐esteem at Time 1 than men who did not move. Sexual behavior with women but not with men was predictive of movement; men who shifted toward homosexuality reported fewer current and lifetime female sexual partners and a later age of first heterosexual activity than men who did not shift in this direction. In addition, men who moved toward homosexuality were more likely at Time 1 to fantasize about men during masturbation and less likely to use drugs with their male partners.