Gender identity disorder (GID) in adolescents and adults with differences of sex development (DSD): A systematic review and meta-analysis

J Pediatr Urol. 2021 Feb;17(1):39-47. doi: 10.1016/j.jpurol.2020.11.017. Epub 2020 Nov 12.


Gender assignment in infants born with a difference in sexual development (DSD) remains one of the many difficult decisions faced by the multi-disciplinary treatment team as some of these children develop gender identity disorder (GID) when they become adults. In this systematic review and meta-analysis we have analyzed the prevalence of GID in adolescent and adults with DSD. The secondary outcome of this review is to help physicians in appropriate sex assignment of DSD children so that development of GID in later life can be reduced.

Methods: Pubmed/Index medicus were searched for "intersex" [All fields] OR "disorders of sexual differentiation AND "gender identity disorder OR gender dysphoria" [MeSH] for articles published between 2005 and 2020. Typical diagnoses included were congenital adrenal hyperplasia (CAH); complete androgen insensitivity syndrome (CAIS); partial androgen insensitivity syndrome (PAIS); 5 alpha reductase deficiency (5ARD); 17-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase deficiency (17HSD); mixed gonadal dysgenesis (MGD) and complete gonadal dysgenesis (CGD). GID or gender dysphoria (a strong feeling of dissatisfaction about oneself as male or female) prevalence in DSD patients older than 12 years of age was extracted. Within each condition, GID percentage was compared between female and male rearing.

Results: The I2statistics for prevalence of GID in DSD showed high heterogeneity with I2 of 93% (95% C.I 90-95%) among the 20 articles included. The overall prevalence of GID among those with DSD was 15% (95% C.I 13-17%). CAH reared females had 4% GID while CAH reared males had significantly higher GID at 15% (p = 0.0056). All CAIS patients were raised as females and the prevalence of GID was 1.7%. GID prevalence was 12% in PAIS raised as females while 25% in those raised as males with no significant difference (p = 0.134). GID was significantly high in 5ARD (53%) and 17HSD (53%) reared as females with half of them virilizing at puberty forcing a gender change. Among sex chromosome DSD 22% of those reared as females had GID while none in those raised as male with no significant difference.

Conclusions: GID is low in women with CAH, CAIS and CGD favoring female sex of rearing in these conditions. GID is high in women with 5ARD/17HSD favoring male sex of rearing in these conditions. GID is variable in PAIS or MGD and no recommendations on sex of rearing could be made in these conditions. Each DSD patient is unique and they warrant multi-disciplinary care and long term psycho sexual support.

Keywords: DSD; Disorders of sexual differentiation; Gender dysphoria; Gender identity.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Child
  • Disorder of Sex Development, 46,XY* / diagnosis
  • Disorder of Sex Development, 46,XY* / epidemiology
  • Disorders of Sex Development* / diagnosis
  • Disorders of Sex Development* / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Gender Dysphoria* / diagnosis
  • Gender Dysphoria* / epidemiology
  • Gender Identity
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Sexual Development
  • Steroid Metabolism, Inborn Errors*