Prevalence and demography of transsexualism in Belgium

Eur Psychiatry. 2007 Apr;22(3):137-41. doi: 10.1016/j.eurpsy.2006.10.002. Epub 2006 Dec 26.


Aim: The Belgian medical world has acknowledged the diagnosis of transsexualism and accepted Sex Reassignment Surgery (SRS) as one of the steps in the treatment of choice since 1985. This prevalence and demographic study analyses data on all Belgian individuals who have undergone SRS since that year.

Methods: All (188) plastic surgeons as well as all gender teams (Antwerp, Bruges, Ghent, and Liège) in Belgium were sent demographic questionnaires to be completed for each of their transsexual patients.

Results: The results show an overall prevalence of 1:12,900 for male-to-female and 1:33,800 for female-to-male transsexuals in Belgium. In Wallonia (the French-speaking region of Belgium) the prevalence is significantly lower than in Flanders (the Dutch-speaking region) and in Brussels (the bilingual capital region). In the total Belgian population the male/female sex ratio is 2.43:1, again with a substantial difference between Wallonia on the one hand and Flanders on the other.

Discussion and conclusion: While in Flanders and in Brussels the prevalence is comparable to that in other Western European countries, in Wallonia it is markedly lower. Transsexualism in Wallonia appears to be socially less acceptable: persons suffering from gender dysphoria in that part of Belgium encounter more problems accessing gender clinics and receiving treatment.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Belgium
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Demography*
  • Female
  • Genitalia, Female / surgery
  • Genitalia, Male / surgery
  • Health Services Accessibility / statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Patient Care Team
  • Sex Ratio
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Surgery, Plastic / statistics & numerical data
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Topography, Medical
  • Transsexualism / diagnosis
  • Transsexualism / epidemiology*
  • Transsexualism / surgery