Gender dysphoria or gender identity disorder

Gender dysphoria or gender identity disorder - What does this do to your child?
Jos is standing in front of the mirror. He has the pink princess dress of his sister and admires himself. That crown on his head and that beautiful jewelry around his neck and arms make it complete. "Now nice long hair," he thinks, "and from that stupid cock!" And with that thought Jos burst into tears.

Great grief

He does not want to be a boy at all! His mother quickly runs upstairs when she hears the hard sermon of Jos. She takes him in her arms and when Jos slanderously tells her that he does not want to be a boy at all, she caresses his hair and says in a low voice: "Honey, you can be completely who and what you want ... because you are Jos, you are unique ... and this beautiful princess dress, is absolutely beautiful. '

What is he beautiful, is not he?

Jos suddenly forgets his grief. "Yes, are not you, mama, how beautiful he is?" And Jos runs another round in front of the mirror. The great sadness for a moment in the background, but never for long. Because Jos is so clear: Jos wants to be a girl.

Gender dysphoria

Ever heard of gender dysphoria or gender identity disorder? These are the terms you use when someone is uncomfortable with their gender. Officially it is still booked as a 'mental illness' but there is now a proposal to delete this in the DSM-V (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders).

Symptoms gender dysphoria

The symptoms of gender dysphoria, or gender disorder, are often observed at a young age. Boys who are not happy with their penis, girls who just want to have a penis and in their turn find it terrible that they get breasts. They do not feel happy in clothes that - socially determined - belong to their biological sex, are not happy with typical 'sex games' and both boys and girls will experiment more than normal with clothes and toys of the opposite sex. Incidentally, this disorder can already be observed in small children, but not all children in which this will express themselves will actually turn out to be transsexual.

Symptoms in a row

  • The desire for the opposite sex is often expressed;
  • The clothing preference goes to that of the other sex (often stereotyped);
  • During the game strongly prefer the role of the opposite sex, to hear strong fantasies of the opposite sex and to play these role plays;
  • Strong preference to make friendships with the opposite sex.

They prefer to lose that dick

In boys it will soon be noticeable that they find their penis or testicles repulsive. They would prefer to remove it and also comment on it. They have an aversion to typical wild boys games, boys' toys and other boyish activities.
Girls can not find sitting while they are sitting down, would love to have a penis and find breasts and menstruation awful. They will also clearly stand out against prescribed women's clothing.

More often than you think

According to research, gender identity disorder in boys is about 1 in 110,000 people (Cohen-Kettenis & Gooren, 1999) and in women 1 in 300,000 (van Kesteren, Gooren & Megens, 1996).


The diagnosis of gender dysphoria is not always easy to establish. In the first instance, it will be investigated whether there is intersexuality or a mental illness such as schizophrenia. In addition, it is important to find out whether a person only strives for the social benefits that a different sex can offer or, for example, as a sham solution for unacceptable homosexuality.

Purpose of a diagnosis

  • Determining a GIS (gender identity disorder)
  • Informing parents / carers (coherence with any other problems)
  • Advise how to deal with a gender problem
  • Advise guidance (and possibly treatment) child

It may be good to know that there is often a waiting period for the counseling and / or treatment that can last up to several months.

Social aspect gender dysphoria

The first gender identity developments are perceptible in the second or third year of life. At that age children start to name themselves as a boy or girl and from that moment gender development is no longer influenced by external factors (parents, media, peers, et cetera).

Certain preferences

Preference for toys of the opposite sex or clothing, does not mean that your child has a GIS, it is not surprising that children want to experiment (how does that feel?) Or just find something very beautiful. Then there is still no question of a gender identity disorder.

Further and deeper

In children with a gender problem, the feeling goes much further and deeper. They find the things of the opposite sex not only very beautiful and attractive, but they find their own sex mainly attractive, even repulsive.
If you have children of different sex, experimenting often takes place in a natural way, if that is not the case, it is sometimes more difficult. Because those cars for a girl might not be that strange, but are you going to buy a doll's pram and a princess dress especially for your son? If he wants it, why not?

Not everyone is understanding

Not everyone in your area will respond with equal understanding to gender dysphoria. Some people will even find it weird, and the shoe just wriggles there too. Do not worry about what others think, this is about the happiness of your child! Every child has the right to develop in a happy way and to experience that he or she may be who he is ... Not to feel 'deviant', but to be loved, accepted and appreciated. Beautiful as he is.

Deviant behavior

There are also educators who tend to ignore or punish gender dysphoria as deviant behavior. Both reactions do not benefit the educational approach of these children. Because why should they not be themselves? What is wrong when a boy walks outside with his pram? Keeping him in protective, often only works counterproductive. You foster his thought to be 'deviant'. If you want to prevent other children from bullying him with this, it is better to have a conversation with the potential bullies and their parents. After all, unknowing makes unloved and by making it negotiable, you reduce the chances of bullying considerably.

Discuss it in the classroom

This way you can also engage in conversations at school and ensure that it is discussed in the classroom. If it really is, you can best open it out so that your child gets the chance to be yourself everywhere.

Treatment of gender dysphoria

At a young age there is still nothing to do and children have all the time and space to develop. The start of puberty is seen as a suitable diagnostic moment. The gender dysphoria, the drop-out against, from then on, strongly increases. They must be at least 12 years old and have experienced the first stage of puberty. And until then, small children especially need acceptance, love and understanding. Because if it is, their path is long and heavy enough.

In conversation with Rosalie, the mother of René

Mama, the little boy in me is getting smaller and the girl is growing. "

Rosalie is the mother of René and her brother Erik. René was born as a boy, but at a young age it was clear that she was a bit different. In my conversation with Rosalie I notice that when she talks about René, she speaks to her as a girl. It's clear for Rosalie, René is a girl. Maybe not yet physically, but for the rest she is a girl.

At the age of two already clear

At the age of two, it was clear that René developed differently from her one-year-older brother. She did not do typical boy things, was obsessed by women's issues like jewelry - 'Grandma, what a beautiful necklace you have!' - did not care about boys' toys and preferred to pick flowers. When she was three years old, she transformed her bathrobe into a dress or put it over her head as 'long hair'. When she was allowed to pick out toys at the toy store, she quickly ran past all cars and motorcycles, straight to dolls and other girl's toys.

You do not think of a disorder

Of course Rosalie did not think of a disorder, but she just took René as she was. Remarkably, René mainly drew female figures with long hair and extremely feminine characteristics. While children up to six / seven years of age normally only sign their own sex.
When René was four years old, she wanted ballet. How disappointed she was when she was not allowed to dance around in a pink tutu but to wear a black suit as a boy. From that moment on clothes became an ever bigger problem, which was expressed in remarks that she wanted to cut off her penis.

Big bell

Not long after Rosalie read a report in the Linda about gender identity disorder and a big bell rang. Because what she read there was not about René, this was René!


From that moment Rosalie has changed course. She started talking at school and René signed up at the VU. During a preliminary discussion at the VU, René drew a tiny sad boy. The drawing changed, however, when a little boy was drawn over his trousers, the short hairs were replaced by long ones and his tears, beautiful long eyelashes. Eventually the sad face disappeared through a radiant smile ... René knew very well how to express her feelings through drawings. At the VU, it was strongly expressed that René wanted to be more girl than boy. From the VU they were advised to stretch the process as long as possible and stick as much as possible to the traditional role pattern.

Different route

Rosalie, however, saw René's struggle, and this went against her feeling that she was going on a different route. She once again contacted school and in consultation with the school it was discussed that René could be who she was: a girl.
For parents of classmates of René there is an information evening, in which Rosalie explained everything. From that moment on it was accepted by everyone at school and René could be who she wanted most.

A happy girl

René is now 10 years old. A happy girl who knows better and better who she is and what she wants. The loving acceptance of her environment has made her stronger and made her a happy child. Just before her eleventh birthday, she will be re-enrolled at VU University Amsterdam to enter the trajectory around the age of 12. Her mother often talks to her and René points out that feelings can change and there is always a way back. René is the one who will decide which path will eventually be followed. After all, it is her way to happiness. And René knows very well what she wants and her words echoed in my head when I ended the conversation with Rosalie: 'Mum, the boy is getting smaller, the girl is growing ...'

René can be who she is!

How nice that René can be who she is ... and how nice that everything has been accepted so lovingly. Her path will become long and heavy, but this beautiful, loving base no one takes her off anymore.

Video: Understanding Gender Dysphoria in Children and Teens - Dr. Mark Daniels

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