Gender Dysphoria and Gender Change in Disorders of Sex Development/Intersex Conditions: Results From the dsd-LIFE Study

Baudewijntje P.C. Kreukels, Birgit Köhler, Anna Nordenström, Robert Roehle, Ute Thyen, Claire Bouvattier, Annelou L.C. de Vries, Peggy T. Cohen-Kettenis, Birgit Köhler, Peggy T. Cohen-Kettenis, Annelou L.C. de Vries, Wiebke Arlt, Claudia Wiesemann, Jolanta Slowikowska-Hilczer, Aude Brac de la Perriere, Charles Sultan, Francoise Paris, Claire Bouvattier, Ute Thyen, Nicole ReischAnnette Richter-Unruh, Hedi Claahsen-van der Grinten, Anna Nordenström, Catherine Pienkowski, Maria Szarras-Czapnik

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© 2018 International Society for Sexual Medicine Background: Information on the psychosexual outcome of individuals with disorders of sex development (DSDs) and intersex conditions is of great importance for sex assignment at birth of newborns with DSD. Aim: To assess gender change and gender dysphoria in a large sample of individuals with different DSDs. Methods: A cross-sectional study was conducted in 14 European centers with 1,040 participants (717 female-identifying and 311 male-identifying persons and 12 persons identifying with another gender) with different forms of DSD. The cohort (mean age = 32.36 years, SD = 13.57) was divided into 6 major subgroups: women with 45,X DSD and variants (Turner syndrome; n = 325), men with 47,XXY DSD and variants (Klinefelter syndrome; n = 219), women with XY DSD without androgen effects (n = 107) and with androgen effects (n = 63), men with XY DSD (n = 87), and women with 46,XX congenital adrenal hyperplasia (n = 221). Data on psychosexual outcome were gathered by medical interviews and questionnaires. Outcomes: Gender change and gender dysphoria. Results: Although gender changes were reported by 5% of participants, only in 1% (3% if those with Klinefelter and Turner syndromes—conditions in which gender issues are not prominent—are excluded) did the gender change take place after puberty and was likely initiated by the patient. 39 participants (4%) reported gender variance: between male and female, a gender other than male or female, or gender queer, alternating gender roles, or a gender expression that differed from the reported gender. This group had lower self-esteem and more anxiety and depression than the other participants. Clinical Implications: Clinicians should be aware of and sensitive to the possibility that their patients with DSD not only might have transgender feelings and a desire to change gender, but also identify as different from male or female. The complexity of their feelings might require counseling for some patients. Strengths and Limitations: The study is unique in the large number of participants from many different clinics, with sizable numbers in most subgroups, and in the large number of aspects that were measured. However, the very broadness of the study made it impossible to focus in detail on gender issues. Also, there is a need for instruments specifically measuring gender dysphoria in individuals with DSD that take non-binary genders into account. Conclusion: To make appropriate gender care possible for people with DSD, the gender-normative and gender-variant development of children with DSD should be studied in longitudinal studies. Kreukels BPC, Köhler B, Nordenström A, et al. Gender Dysphoria and Gender Change in Disorders of Sex Development/Intersex Conditions: Results From the dsd-LIFE Study. J Sex Med 2018;15:777–785.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)777-785
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Sexual Medicine
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2018


  • Disorders/Differences of Sex Development
  • Gender Change
  • Gender Dysphoria
  • Gender Incongruence
  • Intersex Conditions
  • Psychosexual Outcome

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