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Frequently Asked Questions? FAQs

Can you tell me if there is a link between sexual abuse in a male between the ages of 8 and 10 and gender identity disorder? Could sexual abuse cause this disorder and if so can you direct me to some articles that deal with just that sort of circumstance?

Although we are uncertain as to what may cause gender dysphoria, I can say for certain that there is no reason to believe that sexual abuse at any age is responsible. I have worked with over 600 gender dysphoric individuals over the last 31 years and only a handful reported being abused as a child. In those cases the gender dysphoria the individuals experienced predated the abuse. Furthermore I have never read reports of sexual abuse being a determining factor. Recent evidence shows that the most probable cause is a congenital abnormality.

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I recently met a man who told me that he was a male lesbian. What does that mean? Is this a case of gender identity disorder? Are there any references to male lesbianism in the literature?

When a man uses this phrase, it generally means that he is attracted to women but not in a male way. For him the accent would be more on what other men would refer to as foreplay. Penetration of his partner may not be his main objective when having sex with a woman.

Gender Dysphoria has more to do with gender role preference in life in general than it does with choice of sexual partners or how the individual makes love. GD may be present but such a diagnosis would require much more information than what you have presented me with.

I'm sorry but I don't know of any references to male lesbianism in the professional literature.

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Is it possible that if I had GD from early childhood (6-8 years) could it, in your opinion, with the help of psychological counseling (instigated by anxious parents) have gone into remission and resurfaced at a later date say early or late puberty?

 

I can't say with any certainty if gender issues can go into "remission" in early childhood and re-emerge in puberty, but it is well known that social pressures to conform to expected gender presentation can be very effective at submerging the issue, especially in children. I have worked with a lot of people who report similar circumstances. Every case is different and you will have to work that out for yourself with the help of a therapist before you can go on with transition. Given your psychological bent, I'm sure you already know this.

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Is transsexuality possible for a person whose sexual organs appear to be 'normal' from the biological point of view? If yes, how and why?

It is very common for transsexuals to have normal appearing genitalia. The problem for transsexuals is that despite their normal appearing genitalia, they have a strong internal sense of being a different gender than their genitalia show them to be. How that can happen is still being looked into. It probably has something to do with the fact that gender identity forms in the brain at a different time than the genitalia do in the body. Hormonal surges at the wrong time could very easily disrupt the normal progression of sex/gender identity development.

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I have viewed your website and I have mixed feelings about what I should believe. I read your essay in which it talked about the mother's tumors causing this disease, my mother suffered from cancer during pregnancy. I'm 16 and I'm not sure about my sex. I have always been happy being male during childhood and I want to sincerely remain male but I am just very worried that my sex is messed up due to the fact that I constantly have scary thoughts that I might become female.

First of all I never said that gender identity issues are a result of a mother having a tumor while she is pregnant. I did say that it is beginning to look like gender issues begin in utero and one possible cause may be stress to the mother at a critical time of the child's gestation. Your fears are unfounded. If you are happy being male than that is the way it will always be. There are many men who exhibit feminine mannerisms and behaviors but have no interest in being female. It is just the way some men are. Males who transition to the female gender role do so only after great consideration and great difficulty. It will not happen to you if you do not actively take part in the process. However, if you continue to obsess over this issue, I suggest that you get your parents to take you to a gender specialist. If you give me the name of your city and the names of several others you are willing to travel to, I will try to find a therapist near by.

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DISCLAIMER: 

Nothing on this site should be viewed as providing therapeutic advice. No formation of a client/therapist
relationship with Dr. Vitale is intended or to be implied or inferred. The information provided in this site is for educational
purposes only. I attempt to keep the information current but make no representation or warranties in that regard. You should
not rely upon this information as a substitute for consul with a qualified mental health professional.