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Gender disorders in learning disability – a systematic review

Ellena Wood (Foundation Doctor, based at Pennine Acute Trust, Manchester, UK)
Neel Halder (Consultant Psychiatrist in Learning Disability, based at Alpha Hospital, Bury, UK and a Honorary Senior Lecturer, based at University of Manchester, Manchester, UK)

Tizard Learning Disability Review

ISSN: 1359-5474

Article publication date: 30 September 2014




The purpose of this paper is to systematically review the literature on gender identity disorder (GID) and associated gender disorders in people with learning disabilities and autism, specifically focusing on aetiology, treatment and management.


This study reviewed all the published papers about individuals with both a learning disability and/or autistic spectrum disorder and a gender disorder. Papers from 1980 onwards were included as this was the year of the introduction of GID to the ICD-10. Gender disorders were taken to include the following: GID, transsexualism, cross-dressing, transvestitism or a gender-related sexual disorder.


In total, 16 papers described 43 individuals meeting the inclusion criteria. There was a dearth of guidance on appropriate treatment or management.

Research limitations/implications

Only English language papers were searched. This review points towards more research needed in this area.


In collating relevant papers the review begins the search for evidence regarding aetiology, treatment and management of gender disorders in an area where evidence-based guidelines are needed.



Wood, E. and Halder, N. (2014), "Gender disorders in learning disability – a systematic review", Tizard Learning Disability Review, Vol. 19 No. 4, pp. 158-165.



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Copyright © 2014, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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