Discovery Fit & Health
The symptoms of gender identity disorder may begin when a person is as young as 2 or 3 years old, and they may also begin as late as adulthood. Recognition and treatment of the disorder are the provinces of professionals. At present, gender identity disorder is defined as a psychological disorder. This means it's the job of a mental health professional to diagnose the condition. Most people outgrow childhood signs of gender identity disorder, such as being drawn to cross-gender activities, by adolescence, but a small number grow into adulthood identifying themselves as transsexuals. There is no specific test that can diagnose gender identity disorder, but mental health professionals use some general symptom criteria, such as a persistent feeling of being in the wrong body, identification with the opposite gender and distress that's rooted in cross-gendered identification.
When a person exhibits signs of the disorder at a very young age, counseling is the recommended treatment path, though therapists differ on how to treat the patient. Some therapists will encourage children to live as the gender with which they feel most comfortable, while other therapists will try to help kids appreciate their biological sex and associated gender.
Parents of children who have been diagnosed with gender identity disorder can seek individual and family counseling. An adult who's been identified as having the disorder has a number of options for treatment, including support groups, counseling, hormone therapy and embarking on a "Real-Life Experience," which consists of living in the desired gender full-time for at least one year. A person who has decided to undergo gender reassignment surgery will be approved for the procedure only after a thorough evaluation process and a prolonged transition period.
Gender identity disorder is very rare and tends to occur more often in males than in females. While there is no cause yet established for it, current causal theories include abnormal genes or prenatal and childhood hormone imbalances [source WebMD].
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