Gender Dysphoria

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  • Created by: AnnieB
  • Created on: 09-06-15 09:06

Gender Dysphoria

Also known as gender identity disorder.

Previously known as trans-sexualism.

Characterised by mismatch between external appearance and inward feelings regarding gender.

May be apparent in children as young as two years old.

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Prevalence in Males and Females

Five times greater in males than females.

Zucker & Green (1992) - greater biological vulnerability in boys during early stages of foetal development.

Partial secretion or response to androgen could lead to incomplete male development.

Statistics only on those who have been officially diagnosed.

Society less tolerant of cross dressing in boys - more parental referrals for boys than girls?

Girls need to show more extreme opposite sex behaviour - ‘tomboyishness’ = socially acceptable

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Explanations - Separation Anxiety

Coates & Person (1985) - severe separation anxiety leads to an attempt to restore a fantasy tie to the physically or emotionally absent mother.

The boy confuses ‘being’ his mother with being comforted by her.

60% of 25 boys with gender dysphoria they studied also had separation anxiety disorder.

Lowry & Zucker (1991) - sample of 29 Pps with gender dysphoria, 55% diagnosed with separation anxiety.

Both disorders diagnosed at same time so can’t prove cause and effect.

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Explanations - Parental Influences

Rekers & Lovaas (1974) - Boys with gender dysphoria been reinforced for feminine behaviour eg. dressing in girls’ clothes 

Green (1974) - in a sample of ‘feminine’ boys, 15% had been dressed in girls’ clothes during infancy and as toddlers.

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Behavioural signs of gender dysphoria often apparent in toddlers and pre-school children.

It is difficult to know whether parents are shaping behaviour, or responding to pre-existing differences. 

Unlikely that mere tolerance of cross sex behaviour is sufficient to cause gender dysphoria - active, consistent promotion of it would be necessary. 

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Explanations - Biology

Most research with non-human animals for ethical reasons.

Studies of female rhesus monkeys show masculinisation can occur in behaviour without altering external appearance.

Zucker et al (2001) - compared 205 boys with gender dysphoria with 205 controls. 

19.5% of gender dysphoria group were left handed, compared with 8.3% of controls.

Yeo & Gangestad (1998) - left handedness is associated with indicators of reduced fitness including lower birth weight.

Left handedness in boys provides an indication of general instability in neurodevelopment.

Zucker et al (1999) - gender dysphoria boys had lower birth weight than control group.

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Brain Sex Theory

Allen & Gorski (1990) - compared brains of 26 age matched male and female human subjects.

Found an area of the brain called the bed nucleus of the stria terminalis (BNST), thought to influence sexual behaviour.

Volume of BNST 2.47 times greater in males than females.

Zhou et al (1995) - studied brains of transsexuals and found BNST was same size in male-female transsexuals as females.

Kruijver et al (2000) - number of neurons in BNST of male-female transsexuals similar to females and female-male transsexuals were in normal male range.

Supports view of gender identity as interaction between developing brain and sex hormones.

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