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Vitale, A. (2001). Implications of Being Gender Dysphoric: A Developmental Review. Gender and Psychoanalysis, 6(2):121-141.

(2001). Gender and Psychoanalysis, 6(2):121-141

Implications of Being Gender Dysphoric: A Developmental Review

Anne Vitale, Ph.D.

Gender Identity Disorder (GID) is defined as a persistent discomfort with one's sense of inappropriateness in the gender role assigned at birth. The condition can result in clinically significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning. Recent studies have shown that the condition may be the result of insufficient or inappropriate androgenization of the brain at a critical stage of embryonic development. There is also a sexological theory of etiology but it too includes the possibility of an early onset. All agree that gender identity, whether considered appropriate or inappropriate relative to chromosomal sex, cannot be modified, if ever, beyond the first few months of life.

Individuals presenting with significant sex-gender dimorphic issues commonly report having had feelings of confusion and discomfort with their assigned gender role as early as age 4. Given the early onset, sex-gender dimorphic feelings undersandably influence each of the five classic developmental stages of life. Since this discomfort manifests itself as chronic feelings of anxiety, this paper proposes that Gender Identity Disorder may for treatment purposes be better described as a chronic anxiety disorder; specifically, Gender Expression Deprivation Anxiety Disorder (GEDAD); GEDAD in childhood is characterized by confusion or rebellion. GEDAD in adolescence is characterized by false hopes and disappointment. GEDAD in early adulthood is characterized by hesitant compliance; and GEDAD in full adulthood is characterized by feelings of self-induced entrapment. Further, in old age, if still left untreated, GEDAD is characterized by depression and resignation.

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