Gender Confusion Distresses Teens – Menninger Adolescent Treatment Program

Houston, Texas – Rob never felt like he fit in. The 16-year-old high school student didn?t like ?masculine? interests like sports, cars or gaming like the rest of the boys. He felt more comfortable around girls. And he knew it sounded strange, but he felt like he should be a girl.

Yet, he knew he was not gay, as his parents had suggested. Feeling misunderstood, Rob sank into depression and isolated himself from his family and friends. His schoolwork and social life suffered from his confusion and distress about his gender, a psychiatric condition also called gender identity disorder.

?A lot of kids with gender identity issues keep very quiet about their feelings,? says Flynn O?Malley, PhD, clinical director of the Menninger Adolescent Treatment Program; interim director of the Menninger Hope Program; and an assistant professor in the Menninger Department of Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences at Baylor College of Medicine. ?Their parents may suspect that they are gay, but they are not. Teens with gender identity issues usually remain secretive about their feelings. As they get older they may try to ?pass? as the other sex, and then are often ostracized. They don?t know where they belong.?