A person is said to have a gender identity disorder when he or she has a strong desire to be part of the opposite sex. The desire is so strong that the individual actually believes himself to be a member of the opposite sex who is trapped in the wrong body. Gender identity disorder is widely known as trans-sexuality or trans-genderism.
Gender identity disorder is evident from early childhood in most cases and from adulthood in others. In order to diagnose an individual with gender identity disorder, two components should be present:
- A strong desire to be the opposite sex and repeatedly stating this desire or insisting to be the opposite of what they actually are.
- Persistent discomfort or unease of the current gender and disconnect with the associated gender roles and functioning.
A person is not considered to suffer from gender identity disorder if he does not fulfill any of the mentioned components. Individuals show a longing to be of the other gender by dressing in a way consistent with the gender they identify with – known as cross dressing. They insist on taking up stereotypical masculine or feminine roles in society and expect people to treat them in the same way as they would treat any normal member of the gender they identify with.
The discomfort that a transgender feels towards his current physical and emotional state translates into clinically significant depression. It causes impairment of societal, professional and other areas of functioning. The discomfort is manifested in the patient’s preoccupation with surgical methods to alter his or her gender specific characteristics and an insistence of being born in the wrong sex.
Individuals, who are reluctant to identify and behave like the gender they are born with, face difficulties at home, work and other social settings because of their inability and unwillingness to behave in a particular way. Treatment of gender identity disorder, like any other disorder is mandatory to prevent outcomes like depression and anxiety, drug and alcohol addiction or suicide. Children are said to have reported associating with the opposite sex, as early as two years old, but only a small number of these actually grow to continue to have symptoms that meet the criteria for gender identity disorder. Psychological counseling and therapy proves to be effective to alter the course of the disorder and helping the patient adjust. Patients and their families need to be educated about challenges that gender disorders present and complexity of issues they might face. Speech therapy is also used as a method to help patients use their voice in a way appropriate for their preferred genders.
People experiencing gender identity disorder may differ greatly in when and how they disclose their disorder to friends or family. When they do, it is important that they receive cooperation and concern from their loved ones, rather than hatred or discrimination. Negative reactions may result in coming out of the phase for the patient even more risky.