Objective: In Turkey, an individual with gender identity disorder is stigmatized and isolated from society. The family largely reflects and reinforces these negative views because gender crossing poses a threat to the normatively sanctioned gender classification.
Methods: We examined the acceptance of gender identity differences by the families in 47 relatives of 39 transgendered individuals who applied to a psychiatry clinic for sex reassignment.
Results: Half of the relatives who came to the interview were mothers. While 85.1% of the families considered themselves as secular muslims, 14.9% were very religious. They first noticed the gender identity disorder during puberty (70.2%) or prepuberty (17%). In 63.8% it was remarked that it was a shocking experience. One-third of them felt responsible for it. While 65.9% tried to change the situation by coercion, only 27.7% adopted a supportive attitude. The majority of families tried to conceal the situation from their immediate environment and one-third did not even inform their closest relatives. For half of relatives the mass media was their only source of information whereas one-third received information from doctors. Most of the families were satisfied with the treatment. Family members also reported that the conformity of the transgendered relative within the family improved. Of the family members, 40.4% accepted the transgendered identity and approved the sex reassignment surgery as a final step.
Conclusion: Involvement of family members in the process of change for the transgendered individual is important for both the family as well as the individual concerned.