Evaluation of Asperger Syndrome in Youth Presenting to a Gender Dysphoria Clinic

LGBT Health. 2016 Oct;3(5):387-90. doi: 10.1089/lgbt.2015.0070. Epub 2015 Dec 1.


Purpose: There is evolving evidence that children and adolescents with gender dysphoria have higher-than-expected rates of autism spectrum disorder (ASD), yet clinical data on ASD among youth with gender dysphoria remain limited, particularly in North America. This report aims to fill this gap.

Methods: We conducted a retrospective review of patient chart data from 39 consecutive youth ages 8 to 20 years (mean age 15.8 years, natal male: n = 22, natal female: n = 17) presenting for evaluation at a multidisciplinary gender clinic in a large U.S. pediatric hospital from 2007 to 2011 to evaluate the prevalence of ASD in this patient population.

Results: Overall, 23.1% of patients (9/39) presenting with gender dysphoria had possible, likely, or very likely Asperger syndrome as measured by the Asperger Syndrome Diagnostic Scale (ASDS).

Conclusion: These findings are consistent with growing evidence supporting increased prevalence of ASD in gender dysphoric children. To guide provision of optimal clinical care and therapeutic intervention, routine assessment of ASD is recommended in youth presenting for gender dysphoria.

Keywords: Asperger syndrome; and transgender (LGBT) youth; autism spectrum disorder; bisexual; gay; gender dysphoria; lesbian; transgender.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Asperger Syndrome / complications*
  • Asperger Syndrome / diagnosis
  • Asperger Syndrome / epidemiology
  • Child
  • Female
  • Gender Dysphoria / complications*
  • Gender Dysphoria / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Prevalence
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Sexual and Gender Minorities
  • United States
  • Young Adult