The current literature shows growing evidence of a link between gender dysphoria (GD) and autism spectrum disorder (ASD). This study reviews the available clinical and empirical data. A systematic search of the literature was conducted using the following databases: PubMed, Web of Science, PsycINFO and Scopus; utilizing different combinations of the following search terms: autism, autism spectrum disorder (ASD), Asperger's disorder (AD), co-morbidity, gender dysphoria (GD), gender identity disorder (GID), transgenderism and transsexualism. In total, 25 articles and reports were selected and discussed. Information was grouped by found co-occurrence rates, underlying hypotheses and implications for diagnosis and treatment. GD and ASD were found to co-occur frequently - sometimes characterized by atypical presentation of GD, which makes a correct diagnosis and determination of treatment options for GD difficult. Despite these challenges there are several case reports describing gender affirming treatment of co-occurring GD in adolescents and adults with ASD. Various underlying hypotheses for the link between GD and ASD were suggested, but almost all of them lack evidence.
Keywords: Autism spectrum disorder; co-morbidity; co-occurrence; gender dysphoria; gender identity disorder.