Age of gender dysphoria diagnosis continues to decline

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The age of those who are distressed because of a mismatch between their biological sex and their gender identity—known as gender dysphoria—has been steadily falling, reveals research published in the open access journal General Psychiatry.

And it's lower for those assigned female sex at birth than those assigned male, the findings indicate.

Recent studies suggest that gender dysphoria is becoming more common, particularly among those assigned female sex at birth. But these studies have been hampered by small sample sizes, short monitoring periods, or outdated datasets.

In a bid to get round these limitations, the researchers drew on data submitted to the TriNetX database Research Network from 49 healthcare organizations between 30 April 2017 and 30 April 2022 inclusive.

This database holds the anonymized medical records of around 66 million people, most of whom (80%) live in the USA.

The researchers focused on 42 million 4-65 year olds, 66,078 of whom were diagnosed with gender dysphoria—equivalent to 155 people per 100,000 of the population.

Their average age was 26 (27 for those assigned female sex at birth; 30 for those assigned male sex). And they were more likely to have been assigned female sex at birth—58% vs 55%.

The estimated prevalence of gender dysphoria rose significantly between 2017 and 2021, while the average age of those diagnosed with it fell from 31 in 2017 to 26 in 2021.

But the increasing trend of a gender dysphoria diagnosis among those assigned female sex at birth was significantly more rapid than that of those assigned male sex at birth, before the age of 22.

The estimated prevalence of gender dysphoria among those assigned female sex at birth rose sharply at the age of 11, peaked between the ages of 17 and 19, and then fell below that of those assigned male sex at birth, by the age of 22.

This compares with the estimated prevalence of gender dysphoria among those assigned male sex at birth which started to increase at the age of 13, peaked at the age of 23, and then gradually decreased.

The timing of puberty might explain the different patterns of gender dysphoria by sex, suggest the researchers, as girls generally enter this before boys, and it's at puberty that young people tend to seek medical help for gender issues.

Social attitudes may also have a role, they add, with school-age masculine girls with gender dysphoria more likely to be accepted by their peers and feminine boys in the same situation more likely to face bullying and rejection.

As to the increase in the numbers of those with gender dysphoria, wider availability of specialist clinics and growing awareness and acceptance of gender diversity might explain these trends, the researchers suggest.

"Gender identity development heavily leans on social processes, including exploration and experimentation with external feedback. There is now increasing acceptance of gender-neutral pronouns and gender-non-congruent chosen names," they write.

But the researchers acknowledge that only 20% of participants came from countries other than the USA, which may limit the wider applicability of their findings.

Source:
Journal reference:

Sun, C-F., et al. (2023) The mean age of gender dysphoria diagnosis is decreasing. General Psychiatry. doi.org/10.1136/gpsych-2022-100972.

Comments

  1. Tom Patitucci Tom Patitucci United States says:

    The article is not well written it states that people are assigned gender at birth this is incorrect people are born male or female if they're not comfortable with that gender or feel at some point that they are considering changing that's a different process

    • Trixie Wolf Trixie Wolf United States says:

      I think I can help. You have biological sex (which is not assigned) confused with gender. Gender is entirely social and psychological, and is assigned via parenting and external socialization when the child interacts with society or observes social behaviors and messages about sex and gender. By the time a child is three years old they almost always have a solid understanding of gender and gender expression.

      Parents and societies assign gender by dressing a child a certain way and encouraging or discouraging specific behaviors, which is clearly social because this can differ from society to society. For example, in America prior to WWI pink was considered a color only men could wear, and after the war it changed to women (because countercultural women at that time wore pink in defiance, and men returning from the war didn't want to be identified with a color now widely used by women).

      So this is why the official term in the literature is "assigned gender at birth", and that's what it means here. You don't assign sex, but you do generally raise a child in a gender you assign to them. It's a little confusing if you haven't studied the concept because in almost all societies the gender is assigned based on the sex of the child, so we tend to think of it as being the same thing, but there's nothing intrinsically biological about, say, dresses or the color pink or tool boxes--that's all socialized.

      • Graeme Hendry Graeme Hendry United Kingdom says:

        The word gender means kind, breed or sex.
        It is not social, psychological or subjective as it was already defined and does mean kind, breed or sex.
        The word was hijacked and its definition manipulated to suit the extremely questionable needs of John Money who,,, well read about the Reimer boys and  the grotesque work he was involved with.
        People based in reality are being asked to adopt a viewpoint that was invented by this individual and accept the findings generated through, and this is being generous, pseudo science and fiction without any quantitative basis in reality and with no evidence or facts to support any of the outcomes claimed.

      • Les Phier Les Phier United States says:

        That's a solid explanation of the difference between gender and sex. The problem, as you rightly note, is that most people haven't studied the topic, which leads to confused claims like "trans women are women." The error is easy to spot: the proper claim would be of the form "trans women are female-gendered men."

        Of course, even THAT conflates sex and gender: the only actual trans women are male-gendered women, precisely the reverse of those inaccurately referred to as "trans women." But lately, more people have been getting educated, leading to increased usage of the terms transfem (female-gendered men) and transmasc (male-gendered women). Widespread adoption of those terms would surely clear up a lot of the needless confusion, frustration, and animosity that's been going around!

        Trans people have it hard enough getting people to recognize their gender; it's a double-whammy that so many (even within the trans community!) get their sex wrong as well, likely a relic of the days when one spoke of "sex-change operations" (as if one ever hope to change one's sex!).But I think that's a solid explanation of the difference between gender and sex. The problem, as you rightly note, is that most people haven't studied the topic, which leads to confused claims like "trans women are women." The error is easy to spot: the proper claim would be of the form "trans women are female-gendered men."

        Of course, even THAT conflates sex and gender: the only actual trans women are male-gendered women, precisely the reverse of those inaccurately referred to as "trans women." But lately, more people have been getting educated, leading to increased usage of the terms transfem (female-gendered men) and transmasc (male-gendered women). Widespread adoption of those terms would surely clear up a lot of the needless confusion, frustration, and animosity that's been going around!

        That's a solid explanation of the difference between gender and sex. The problem, as you rightly note, is that most people haven't studied the topic, which leads to confused claims like "trans women are women." The error is easy to spot: the proper claim would be of the form "trans women are female-gendered men."

        Of course, even THAT conflates sex and gender: the only actual trans women are male-gendered women, precisely the reverse of those inaccurately referred to as "trans women." But lately, more people have been getting educated, leading to increased usage of the terms transfem (female-gendered men) and transmasc (male-gendered women). Widespread adoption of those terms would surely clear up a lot of the needless confusion, frustration, and animosity that's been going around!

        Trans people have it hard enough getting people to recognize their gender; it's a double-whammy that so many (even within the trans community!) get their sex wrong as well, likely a relic of the days when one spoke of "sex-change operations" (as if one ever hope to change one's sex!).

    • Havok211 Havok211 United States says:

      I completely agree Tom, and said the exact same thing. And to the lady who replied to you: Sex and Gender are the same thing. There are 2 possible options. You are trying to take a preexisting term and give it a new meaning which I can't stand. It's the same problem I have with the whole "they/them" crap. It just complicated things even more. If you want to be some made up thing or call yourselves by some other defining terms go for it, I don't have a problem with that. Just make it something that hasn't been used already.

  2. Tom Tyler Tom Tyler United States says:

    This is being driven by Hype, and those responsible for the hype in the media, social media, the medical/mental health industries, government and politics are facing massive legal liabilities for the destruction they are causing.

  3. PS
    Tom Tyler Tom Tyler United States says:

    I forgot to list "those responsible in the education systems", as well.

  4. Graeme Hendry Graeme Hendry United Kingdom says:

    The Oxford Etymological Dictionary of the English Language defined gender as kind, breed, sex.
    It is not subjective.
    Then along comes John Money.
    If unfamiliar go have a read about the dangerously flawed and wilfully misleading pseudo science that was used to generate the 'new' meaning of gender and the reason why a new definition was necessary.  It is no mistake the new definition is one that attempts to normalize behaviour that cant even be repeated without a strong probability that police would be knocking on your door.
    This ideology and thinking people must make no allowance because it is ideology, is dangerous,  duplicitous and all those who seek a safe environment for all of the people who are vulnerable must stand against it.

The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of News Medical.
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