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Gender identity disorder in young people

  • Domenico Di Ceglie
Extract

The recent film Boys Don't Cry illustrates in a highly dramatised form the problems that the phenomenon of gender identity disorder can create in an extreme situation. The film is based on the true story of a young person, Brandon, with a female body who perceived himself as a male. In the film we do not know when the issue of his male gender identity first appeared, but we see him living in a male role as a teenager trying to conceal, to his peers, the reality of his female body. (I refer to Brandon as ‘he’ because this is how Brandon presents himself in the film. The dilemma about using ‘he’ or ‘she’ typically confronts professionals in the management of teenagers like Brandon.) The struggles of these concealments are well portrayed, as in the scene when he steals tampons from a shop. He joins in male activities and displays of physical strength as a confirmation of his male role. He is well accepted as a boy within a troubled and troublesome group of young people. He falls passionately in love with a girl, Lana, who accepts him as he is without much questioning, and a close intimate relationship develops, which the peer group seems to accept. The reality of his body is eventually revealed. His girlfriend can accept the new situation, but had she really not known or had she turned a blind eye? Unfortunately, two young men become more and more disturbed by this realisation. It stirs a primitive violence in them, which leads first to Brandon's rape and then to his murder.

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References
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BJPsych Advances
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Gender identity disorder in young people

  • Domenico Di Ceglie
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