I recently had the opportunity to do some research on Gender Identity Disorder (GID). It is a fascinating subject and one that often goes unnoticed by many until it is discussed on a news magazine show or a documentary. It is fascinating because the human condition and the human experience, especially as it relates to sex and sexuality, are so varied yet most of us are only exposed to a very small part of it.
There is a distinction between having a Gender Identity Disorder (GID) and some of the other types of sexual/behavioral disorders. Some individuals with GID may ultimately decide to have Sexual Reassignment Surgery (SRS) thereby becoming transsexual.
People will sometimes confuse transvestites with transsexuals. The difference is significant.
Transvestites and Fetishism
A transvestite is a heterosexual male who dresses in women’s clothing (cross-dresser). Some men dress this way to earn their livings as female impersonators. They perform in drag in nightclubs and cabarets around the world but might very well dress as men when they are not working. They may or may not be gay or homosexual.
However, those transvestites with a fetish (a sexual or emotional attachment to an inanimate object) get a strong sexual arousal when they dress in women’s clothing. They will frequently be married men and are sexually attracted to females.
Technically they are considered to have a Transvestic Fetish, which means that they experience strong sexual urges and a compelling need to wear women’s clothes. A transvestite with this type of fetish will often desire to be seen in public as a woman, even though he does not identify himself as female.
Married transvestites will frequently wear their wives’ clothing but may also have a secret stash of their own. They are generally plagued with shame and guilt about their behavior and terribly fearful of being discovered and rejected by their spouse.
Treatment for this type of disorder is rarely sought by the individual. It is usually when the spouse becomes aware and is conflicted about accepting her husband’s behavior that the couple may decide to seek therapy.
Gender Identity Disorder and Sex Change
A person with Gender Identity Disorder has strong and persistent cross-gender identification.
Early onset of symptoms such as: behaving and/or dressing more like a member of the opposite sex; expressing a desire to be a member of the opposite sex; hating one’s own genitals; being rejected from one’s peer group because of behavior that is different from same sex peers can lead to withdrawal and depression early on in a person’s life.
This problem seems to occur more in males than females. It also appears early in childhood often about 4 or 5 years of age, strongly suggesting chromosomal and/or hormonal abnormalities during fetal development.
The person with GID is conflicted or disgusted with his own body. He has a persistent and compelling desire to behave and identify with the opposite sex. If he dresses like a female it is not because of sexual arousal like the tranvestic fetish but more because he sees himself as female and rejects his male sexual parts.
As he grows older his depression over being trapped in the wrong body may cause him to seek Sexual Reassignment Surgery. This type of surgery can be both from male to female or from female to male.
This process, if done clinically correct, should take a long time, perhaps 2 or more years before SRS is approved. It would include intense counseling or psychotherapy, education, hormone treatments, and time for the patient to experience what it would be like to be a member of the opposite sex by “passing” as such in everyday life.
This treatment is often expensive and demands patience and commitment. A therapist will generally work with a physician to insure that all aspects of the process, including hormone treatment are being appropriately addressed.
If the patient is hasty and chooses to have SRS before he is ready he may end up regretting his decision, potentially causing himself irreversible harm.
If you or anyone you know needs more information on this issue please contact me.
Some websites that offer information and support for anyone dealing with this issue are: