Age of Realization and Disclosure of Gender Identity Among Transgender Adults

J Adolesc Health. 2023 Jun;72(6):852-859. doi: 10.1016/j.jadohealth.2023.01.023. Epub 2023 Mar 17.


Purpose: The "rapid-onset gender dysphoria" (ROGD) hypothesis theorized, based on a parent-report survey, a distinct and more transient form of gender dysphoria in which individuals purportedly come to understand themselves as transgender and/or gender diverse (TGD) suddenly during adolescence. This study evaluated components of ROGD by (1) estimating the prevalence among TGD adults of first realizing one's TGD identity after childhood (i.e., after the onset of puberty), and (2) assessing the median time between realizing one's gender identity and disclosing this to someone else.

Methods: We conducted a secondary analysis of the 2015 US Transgender Survey, a survey of 27,715 TGD adults in the United States. Participants were asked the age at which they first realized their gender identity was different than societal expectations based on their sex assigned at birth and grouped by "childhood realization" (ages ≤ 10 years) and "later realization" (ages > 10). They were also asked the age at which they first shared their gender identity with another person.

Results: Of 27,497 participants, 40.8% reported "later realization" of TGD identities. Within the "childhood realization" group, the median age of sharing one's gender identity with another person was 20. In this group, the median time between realization of one's gender identity and sharing this with another person was 14 years.

Discussion: A substantial proportion of TGD adults reported realizing their gender identity was different from societal expectations based on their sex assigned at birth during adolescence or later. Several years typically elapsed between participants' TGD identity realization and sharing this with another person. The results of this study do not support the ROGD hypothesis.

Keywords: Gender dysphoria; Gender identity; Mental health; Transgender.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Child
  • Disclosure
  • Female
  • Gender Identity
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Male
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Transgender Persons*
  • Transsexualism*
  • United States