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What is Gender Identity Disorder?

What do you do if your son wants to wear dresses and play with dolls? Or if your daughter tells you she wants to be a boy? Should parents chock it up as a phase their child will grow out of, or is this gender identity disorder [GID]?


Dr. Phil reviews the criteria for diagnosing gender identity disorder, from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, published by the American Psychiatric Association. Joining him is Dr. Dan Siegel, professor and clinical psychiatrist at UCLA School of Medicine, and director for the Center for Human Development.



Diagnostic Criteria for Gender Identity Disorder:

A) A strong, persistent ...

     1) Repeatedly stated desire to be the other sex.

     2) Preference for cross-dressing or simulated female attire in boys. In girls, stereotypical masculine clothing.

     3) Preference for cross-sex roles in make-believe play or persistent fantasies.

     4) Participation in the stereotypical games and pastimes of the other sex.

     5) Preferences in playmates of the other sex. In adolescents and adults: stated desire to be the other sex, passing as the other sex, desire to be treated as the other sex.


B) Discomfort with his or her sex.

     1) Boys: Assertion that his penis or testes are disgusting or will disappear.

     2) Girls: Rejection of urinating in a seated position; assertion that she has or will grow a penis; she does not want to grow breasts or menstruate.

     3) Preoccupation with getting rid of primary and secondary sex characteristics.


C) The disturbance is not concurrent with physical intersex condition.


D) The disturbance causes clinically significant distress.


"And your point, Dr. Siegel, is if it doesn't cause distress, that's a real deal-breaker in terms of whether or not it's a problem," Dr. Phil says. 

"Right, well, that's how we define a psychiatric disturbance, is that it causes distress," Dr. Siegel says. "But here, clearly, if you have genitals of a boy but you identify as a girl, it's going to cause distress, and then the decision to try to allow this person to have an identity in their lives as a girl and the distress goes away, tells you a lot."


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