Introduction/background: Many parents of infants born with a DSD describe the process of initial sex assignment at birth as highly stressful. Parents of children with a DSD also note high distress when their children engage in behaviors that are not considered typical for their gender. Objective: The goal of this article is to provide members of the health care team a brief overview of psychosocial facets of gender and gender identity particularly relevant to DSD for the purposes of enhancing shared decision-making and optimizing support for individuals with a DSD and their families. Discussion: Gender identity is a multidimensional construct involving related but distinct concepts such as gender typicality, gender contentedness and felt pressure for gender differentiation, and can be assessed via standardized measures. Gender dysphoria is associated with poor psychological adjustment, and is mitigated by family and peer support. Family influences on gender identity include parental modeling of gender behavior and family composition (e.g., same-sex children vs both sons and daughters in a family). Cultural factors that may influence sex assignment include societal views on gender, and gender-related differential resource allocation within a society. In addition, religious beliefs and the presence of a “third-sex” category within a culture may also influence parental gender ideology. Clinical application: Health care providers who work with patients with a DSD must have a strong grasp on the construct of gender identity, and must be able to clearly and consistently communicate with patients and families about gender beliefs in order to optimize family support and gender-related decisions.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health