Epidemiology of gender dysphoria and transgender identity

Sex Health. 2017 Oct;14(5):404-411. doi: 10.1071/SH17067.


This review provides an update on the epidemiology of gender dysphoria and transgender identity in children, adolescents and adults. Although the prevalence of gender dysphoria, as it is operationalised in the fifth edtion of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), remains a relatively 'rare' or 'uncommon' diagnosis, there is evidence that it has increased in the past couple of decades, perhaps reflected in the large increase in referral rates to specialised gender identity clinics. In childhood, the sex ratio continues to favour birth-assigned males, but in adolescents, there has been a recent inversion in the sex ratio from one favouring birth-assigned males to one favouring birth-assigned females. In both adolescents and adults, patterns of sexual orientation vary as a function of birth-assigned sex. Recent studies suggest that the prevalence of a self-reported transgender identity in children, adolescents and adults ranges from 0.5 to 1.3%, markedly higher than prevalence rates based on clinic-referred samples of adults. The stability of a self-reported transgender identity or a gender identity that departs from the traditional male-female binary among non-clinic-based populations remains unknown and requires further study.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Child
  • Female
  • Gender Dysphoria / epidemiology*
  • Gender Dysphoria / psychology
  • Gender Identity
  • Health Services for Transgender Persons*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Prevalence
  • Self Report