The DSM diagnostic criteria for gender identity disorder in children

Arch Sex Behav. 2010 Apr;39(2):477-98. doi: 10.1007/s10508-009-9540-4.


In this article, I review the diagnostic criteria for Gender Identity Disorder (GID) in children as they were formulated in the DSM-III, DSM-III-R, and DSM-IV. The article focuses on the cumulative evidence for diagnostic reliability and validity. It does not address the broader conceptual discussion regarding GID as "disorder," as this issue is addressed in a companion article by Meyer-Bahlburg (2009). This article addresses criticisms of the GID criteria for children which, in my view, can be addressed by extant empirical data. Based in part on reanalysis of data, I conclude that the persistent desire to be of the other gender should, in contrast to DSM-IV, be a necessary symptom for the diagnosis. If anything, this would result in a tightening of the diagnostic criteria and may result in a better separation of children with GID from children who display marked gender variance, but without the desire to be of the other gender.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders*
  • Humans
  • Sexual and Gender Disorders / diagnosis*