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The Problem of Gender Identity Disorder


When a child is growing up, it is expected that he grows up into a normal being and reflecting behavior according to their gender. Boys are expected to grow up into men and take up responsibilities accordingly. Girls are also expected to display the character of a lady and grow into responsible mothers. However this is not always the case, parents may start observing strange behaviors in their children that may cause an alarm. One of this behavior is what is referred to as gender identity disorder. If such a problem is not diagnosed and treatment administered in time, it may have adverse effects on the child when they grow.

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Gender identity disorder is a psychological condition in which the individual feels more of the opposite gender than they are. Such a person will enjoy the company of the opposite gender and to a large percentage behave like them. The only distinction here is that the physical make of the individual does not display what they feel. They usually have a strange feeling when they discover that they are behaving contrary to what they are supposed to be. The serious problem comes when they are in a social setting like schools where they are to play gender games (Peter, 2002). The individual may feel so much out of place as they find themselves not fitting anywhere. There is the pressure of them wanting to join the opposite gender and the peers will react if they do so.

Characteristics of Gender Identity Disorder

During their early stages of life, boys with gender identity disorder will reflect the characteristics of a girl. Unlike their normal counterparts, they prefer the company of girls and always want to play their games. They avoid rough games like football and prefer the softer girlish games. In acting childhood games, they prefer to take up female roles like mother and sister. They also feel comfortable when wearing girls’ clothes and girls on the other hand will behave like boys. They enjoy playing rough games and mostly associate with boys where they wear boys’ cloth and just wish they maintain their manhood when they grow up.

As they grow up, the boys will reflect characteristics that are common with girls like expressing the desire to bear children in the future as well as interest in the feminine stories. They use of makeup’s and other accessories, a desire to grow long hair, imitating the female voice and gestures and enjoy being referred to by female nicknames. The behavior may not be common in girls but the few cases reported in girls suggest that, they will show no interest in the company of girls and generally display the rough nature of boys through fighting around and behaving violently. (Ronald, 2009)

Although some of these behaviors may be experienced in most normal children when they are growing up, there is a distinction to what extent the behavior manifests. Parents should be able to make a distinction between the children with gender identity disorder and the normal activities that may be due to certain gender dominance. Some children may be forced to play games of the opposite sex, due to the dominance of such a gender in the surrounding. Those with the disorder will completely feel adamant to join in the activities of their gender even when the environment demands so.

During their puberty stage, boys with a gender identity disorder will tend to deny the changes happening to them. They will hide their genitals and wish they were cut. They also feel shy to speak out due to their deepened voice and try to smoothen it. The girls may prefer to keep short hair and wear clothes that will hide their physique. They will persist in keeping the male company and acquire the masculine walking style together with other behaviors. Most of these individuals have no regard for their secondary features and regard them as ugly.

Gender identity in adults takes a different route all together. It is a stage when the psychological clashes with the physical. It is a time when their physic is much developed and it becomes even harder for them to adjust. Some of the adults will go to the extreme of going for surgeries to change their physical features. The pressure becomes so much on them that, they resort to such means so that they can comfortably fit in their preferred group. At this stage, most males will display bisexual and homosexual behaviors.

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The diagnosis of this disorder can be done in children from the age of six years old. During early diagnosis, the children can be helped and treated. The first stages of this diagnosis are more physical than medical. A child can easily be noticed to have an identity disorder if they persistently display the opposite characters. The diagnosis is done by a mental health specialist who will take a critical study of the individual’s history. The physician may however recommend biological tests in case the patient has a problem that may be contributing to the situation. The diagnosis may hence involve a physical examination of the external genitalia, the study of the sex chromatin, Chromosome analysis, and the medical history of the patient.

These tests are done to rule out any probability of the patient being hormonally imbalanced or behaving so due to the hormonal treatment that the mother may have gone through during pregnancy (Saralea, 2003). The historical background study of the child is mostly done with the reference to the father. This is because; it was revealed that normal identity in children is characterized by the father’s dominance. When the child is physically or mentally deprived of a father figure in the home, he is likely to develop an identity disorder.

Since the males were the most affected by this problem, several studies on the history of their families show that, to some extent, these boys lacked a male figure that should have instilled the characters in them. It was also discovered that the parents who nursed their children of this disorder, were once nursed of the same. This means that gender identity disorder may be hereditary.

Treatment for GID

Treatment for gender identity disorder can be administered to the patients once the cause of their behavior is established. If the cause has nothing to do with medical interventions, the patient is taken through therapy sessions to re-identify themself. The best treatment can be given to a patient during their childhood stages. This is mainly because; it is easier to change the pattern of a child’s growth when they are still young rather than when they have matured. It will also be easier for the psychiatrist to influence the child’s behavior and monitor them adjust to their normal self. The treatment of this disorder involves a series of stages that may take a number of years.

If these disorders are not taken care of when the child is still young, they are likely to develop into irreversible adulthood problems of homosexuality and transsexuals (Williams, 2003). The adult patient may also experience social problems that may lead to emotional pain. They may find it hard to associate with any of the genders which will bring a feeling of isolation. When the disorder is diagnosed early, the parents and other members of society will be involved in the treatment process.

There have been a number of cases where adults with such disorders go through periods of hormonal therapy so as to completely change their physical makeup. These therapies involve surgeries, where the males are administered with the estrogen hormone to display the female characteristics. This hormone will make them grow breasts, their body hair to disappear and reduce the size of their testes (Seligman, 2007). The females on the other hand are administered with the male hormone testosterone which reduces the size of their breasts, grows a beard, and make them develops a deeper voice.

The treatment process will begin by establishing the relationship between the patient and the parents. They are given some counseling on how they can be involved in the treatment process. After counseling, the patient is trained to change behavior patterns pertaining to gestures and speech. In this regard, the patient if he is a male will have to stay within the company of a male psychiatrist that will frequently expose him to male activities. The father is also required to be at the forefront during such activity. He is to develop a closer relationship with the child and influence him into behaving as a man. If the fathers are not available due to various reasons, the children are provided with male role models to help them out.

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To be able to adequately treat the patient, the psychiatrist has to know the areas that need serious attention. This requires some time and it may involve a video record of the child’s behavior both at school and at home. This will help the psychiatrist to transform the similar behavior to the opposite. The training is done in a psychological manner, where the psychiatrist will show disinterest when the patient displays characters of the opposite sex. Since he is the person with the patient for a longer period of time, he will learn to behave in accordance with the requirements of the psychiatrist and the father figure.

During this process, the mother is advised not to keep a close association with the boy and prevent him from playing with the female gender. This may be done by ensuring that the boy is close to the males during playtimes as much as possible. With such male dominance around the boy, he will have no other but to adapt to their ways. The teachers of the boy are also trained on how to help the child adjust in the school setting by training them how to counterattacks any of the abnormal behaviors displayed by him.

For such treatment to produce positive results, it requires maximum attention and supervision towards the patient. Unless the psychiatrist, teachers, and parents coordinate in observing these procedures, the problem may only be partially solved. If an adequate follow-up is not administered to the child, the same problem may reoccur at a future stage. However, such kind of treatment is not a hundred percent effective; the patients have only been helped to identify themselves with the sex but the behavior change has been difficult to completely eliminate.

There are no preventive measures to this condition and may continue recurring among the members of a similar family (Arthur, 2006). Gender identity disorder has been related to the major prevalence of homosexuality. The research conducted reveals that due to their psychological belief that victims belong to the opposite gender; the same will be reflected in their sexual behavior of homosexuality. Therefore, it has been suggested by various psychiatrists that, homosexuality can be viewed as a psychological disorder.

To be able to help the victims of gender identity disorder, it has been suggested that, the church and Christian ministries can be of great help. This can be done by using biblical principles on the roles that are required for males and females. With a continuous emphasis on this, the victims may be psychologically influenced into changing their behavior.

The other preventive precaution that can be observed to minimize the prevalence of such behavior especially in boys is that the fathers should make sure they are as close to their sons as possible during their early stages of development. This closeness should not only be physical but also psychological since they are required to be the greatest influence towards their boys. This may be done by playing with them and taking them out. They should also clearly define to them who they exactly are and what is required of them.

The absence of both parents in taking care of the children is mostly caused by conflicts in the homes. Such conflicts may either result in divorce or separation. The children are either divided between their parents or the responsibility left to a single parent. Such incidences make the child develop an attachment towards the gender of the parent. Since the mother can not provide fatherly attention to the child and vice versa, the child will grow up deprived of certain care. This may reflect on the general behavior of the child which will be in accordance with the gender of the parent. To eradicate such an issue, couples are advised to resort to better means of resolving their issues rather than divorce and separation.

The current trend in the society where there is no clear distinction between the roles of males and females has been related to this confusion. When the children are young, most of them are not trained to observe gender roles. Commitment to gender roles has become a norm of the past and one is now required to behave as it seems best for him. The children grow up seeing their mothers behave like males or females and with such a trend; they will also have no problem behaving so. Unless this issue is addressed and the genders behave accordingly, gender identity disorder will soon be regarded as a normal behavior just as homosexuality.

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There is always help to assist the victims that identify such disorders in themselves or their relatives and are willing to change. Such people can seek the help of a psychiatrist who may describe a procedure that will help them change. Gender identity disorder is purely a psychological disorder that can be prevented through discipline and routine observance. The assistance of the psychologist alone may not be a solution to this order; after all, he may not always be there to monitor the patient. It is all a matter of willingness and determination of the affected to come out of it. Family members and friends are also advised to play a role in shaping the character of the affected victim.


Arthur E. (2006): The child psychotherapy treatment planner: John Wiley and Sons pp33-38.

Charles H. (2005): Handbook of infant mental health: Guilford Press pp22-27.

Peter K. (2002): Blackwell handbook of childhood social development: Wiley-Blackwell pp54-59.

Ronald J. (2009): Abnormal Psychology: worth Publishers pp34-30.

Saralea E. (2003): Simultaneous treatment of parent and child: Jessica Kingsley pp22-28.

Seligman L. (2007): Selecting Effective Treatments: John Wiley and Sons pp11-17.

Williams L. (2003): Psychiatric Nursing Made Incredibly Easy: Lippincott Williams pp24-29.

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