Recognizing the Symptoms of Gender Identity Disorder

The stigma attached to issues surrounding gender identity disorder pales in comparison to the inner turmoil people affected by this condition experience on a daily basis. Over the last few decades, more and more cases of gender identity disorder have come to light, partly because of ongoing changes in social views regarding gender and sexuality in general.

Someone living with gender identity disorder views or experiences him or herself as more so akin to the opposite sex, identity-wise. Considering how gender roles continue to hold a prominent place in daily interactions with others, a person dealing with gender identity disorder experiences considerable inner turmoil in trying to live a “normal” life.

Not surprisingly, it’s not hard to recognize the symptoms of gender identity disorder in oneself or someone you know. Symptoms can vary depending on a person’s age as this condition can affect children and teens as well as adults.

Cross-Gender Identification

Cross-gender identification sits at the heart of gender identity disorder. Rather than desiring any particular advantages of one gender over the other, such as the power and influence associated with male gender roles, a person living with an identity disorder harbors an innate identification with the opposite sex. Identifying with the other gender is a natural state of being for cross-gender individuals.

Social norms play a central role in perpetuating the “disorder” aspect inherent in this condition. Consequently, those affected experience considerable distress on the job, within social gatherings as well as within most every social context. In effect, the ongoing rejection experienced by a person becomes a key characteristic of the disorder, according to Spartanburg Regional Medical Center.

Symptoms – Children & Teens

gender disorder

It is possible for the symptoms of gender dysphoria to start at a young age, or later in adulthood.

For both children and adults, a person struggling with gender identity disorder will openly state dissatisfaction with his or her biological gender and desire to be the opposite gender. With children, other symptoms of gender identity disorder may include –


  • Feelings of disgust towards genitalia
  • Dislikes boy-oriented toys, such as guns, tanks and trucks
  • Dislikes sports
  • Aversion to male stereotypes in general


  • Strong desire to possess male genitalia
  • Refusal to urinate in sitting position
  • Aversion to growing breasts and menstruating
  • Aversion towards any type of feminine apparel

Symptoms must be ongoing for a minimum of six months in order for a gender identity diagnosis to apply regardless of a person’s age.

Symptoms – Adults

Adults living with gender identity problems harbor many of the same emotions and aversions as children and teens. While the degree of distress experienced by children, teens and adults may be the same, the effects of gender identity disorder in an adult’s life will likely be more pronounced than in a child’s or teenager’s daily life.

As gender identity consists of primary sex characteristics (genitalia) and secondary sex characteristics (dress, behaviors, roles), adult symptoms become most pronounced in terms of secondary sex characteristics, such as –

  • Dressing like the opposite sex
  • Interacting with others as someone of the opposite sex would
  • Wanting to be treated as someone of the opposite sex
  • Seeking out work or occupations commonly filled by the opposite sex
  • Taking on the gestures, behaviors and roles of the opposite sex

As these symptoms are, for the most part, instinctual or innate for someone living with gender identity disorder, trying to control or hide the “real self” can cause considerable inner turmoil.


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