The heritability of gender identity disorder in a child and adolescent twin sample

Behav Genet. 2002 Jul;32(4):251-7. doi: 10.1023/a:1019724712983.


The heritability and prevalence of the gender identity disorder (GID) was examined, as well as its comorbidity with separation anxiety and depression, in a nonretrospective study of child and adolescent twins. The parents of 314 twins (ages 4-17 years; 96 monozygotic pairs [MZ] and 61 dizygotic [DZ] pairs) completed the Coolidge Personality and Neuropsychological Inventory (CPNI) containing a six-item DSM-IV-based GID scale. Prevalence of clinically significant GID symptomatology in the twin sample was estimated to be 2.3%. Univariate model fitting analyses were conducted using an ordinal transformation of the GID scale. The model that best described the data included a significant additive genetic component accounting for 62% of the variance and a nonshared environmental component accounting for the remaining 38% of the variance. Results suggested no heterogeneity in the parameter estimates resulting from age. The correlation between GID and depression was modest, but significant (r = .20; P < .05), whereas the correlation between GID and separation anxiety was nonsignificant (P > .05). Overall, the results support the hypothesis that there is a strong heritable component to GID. The findings may also imply that gender identity may be much less a matter of choice and much more a matter of biology.

Publication types

  • Twin Study

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Anxiety, Separation / genetics
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Comorbidity
  • Depression / genetics
  • Diseases in Twins*
  • Female
  • Gender Identity*
  • Genetic Predisposition to Disease / genetics
  • Homosexuality, Female / genetics*
  • Homosexuality, Male / genetics*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Models, Genetic
  • Personality Assessment
  • Twins, Dizygotic
  • Twins, Monozygotic