Discuss the Psychological Explanations of Gender Dysphoria (24)

  • Created by: TFoulg
  • Created on: 09-01-15 14:13


Many believe that family have a critical role in the development of gender dysphoria. Three main explanations for this have been proposed. The first is that male to female individuals have had an over-close relationship with their mothers and have had a distant father. Secondly, female to male transgendered individuals have had mothers who experienced psychiatric problems and unsupportive fathers. Finally, the parents of someone with gender dysphoria may have had strong desires for a child of the opposite sex and consciously or not may have reinforced cross gendered behaviour resulting in a confused gender development for the child. According to Freud, gender development occurs during a child’s psychosexual development. Freud believes that children have to go through the ‘Oedipus’ or ‘Elektra’ complex in order to develop a healthy gender. The Oedipus Complex states that young boys develop sexual desires for their mothers and rival their father figures for their mother’s attention. They fear being caught out by their fathers and experience castration anxiety, leading to the repression of sexual urges and identification with the father, subsequently leading to the child to be male and perform adopt appropriate male roles. This is the same for the Elektra complex, however with female children developing sexual desires for their father figures, developing ‘penis envy’ and rivalling their mothers. There are also many people who believe that our gender identity is shaped by our attachment experiences in early childhood, which is labelled as the Attachment Theory. This dictates that babies undergo imprinting, whereby they become attached to the first thing they see and spend time with after they have been born.


Zucker performed a longitudinal study of females 2-3 years of age with gender dysphoria. By the time they were 18 years of agge, only 12% still had dysphoria. For males only 20% remained dysphoric by 18 years old. This means that dysphoria is reversible and therefore more likely to be psychological than biological.

There is also empirical evidence conducted by Reker et al. who reported that of 36 gender dysphoric boys, none have…


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