Average age of gender dysphoria diagnosis falls from 31 to 26, study finds

Trans flag

The average age of people being diagnosed with gender dysphoria has fallen from 31 to 26, a new study has revealed. 

Researchers at the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine, in the US, shared their findings in a research paper published in the General Psychiatry journal. 

The study compared the medical records of about 43 million people, mainly US patients, aged between four and 65, from 49 healthcare organisations. 

The researchers discovered 66,078 of the people in the study had been diagnosed with gender dysphoria, making an estimate of around 155 cases per 100,000. 

Gender dysphoria, as defined by the NHS, describes a “sense of unease that a person may have because of a mismatch between their biological sex and their gender identity”. 

Findings of the study included the average age of gender dysphoria diagnosis dropping from 31 in 2017 to 26 in 2021. 

You may like to watch

The researchers also discovered that the average age for gender dysphoria diagnosis was 27 for people whose biological sex at birth was female, and 30 for those born male.

For those assigned female at birth, the highest prevalence of gender dysphoria diagnosis was at the age of 19, compared with 23 for people assigned male at birth. 

Commenting on the study on Twitter, lead researcher Dr Ching-Fang Sun said: “The decreasing mean age of gender dysphoria diagnosis suggests the emergence of a generation embracing gender diversity. It is important for parents to feel comfortable discussing gender-related topics with their children with a non-judgmental stance.”

Within the research paper, the academics highlighted that “increased availability of speciality gender clinics might generally explain the increasing number of patients with gender dysphoria”. 

They added: “The decreasing mean age of [gender dysphoria] diagnosis suggests an increasing gender non-congruent youth population. The phenomenon might be related to increased accessibility of gender care as well as a gender-minority-friendly social context. 

“Gender identity development heavily leans on social processes, including exploration and experimentation with external feedback. There is now increasing acceptance of gender-neutral pronouns and gender-non-congruent chosen names. 

“Gender minority youth are no longer receiving consistent toxic feedback regarding their identity.” 

Digital platforms, such as video games, provide a “‘transitional playground” that allow youth to explore their identity with more freedom and less worry compared with traditional social situations, the study noted.

The academics acknowledged further studies are needed to “determine the persistence of the diagnosis” but encouraged youth to explore their gender identity with a non-biased stance and educate the public on gender diversity. They also called on clinicians to provide timely assessment for children and youth with gender dysphoria concerns.