This site has a chapter on gender (sexual) identity disorder which explains the psychological reasons which lead children to identify primarily with the opposite sex and to desire to cross dress. GID is the most common childhood precursor to transsexual issues. The primary emotional conflict in these children is the failure of the child to identify with and accept the goodness of one's masculinity or femininity. Drs. Zucker and Bradley in their textbook on GID report that 80% of children with this disorder experience a resolution of their symptoms. Zucker and Bradley's research also demonstrates serious emotional conflicts in the majority of the mothers of these children.
The Catholic Medical Association has information available on understanding children who have difficulty embracing the goodness of their masculinity or femininity and the desire for cross dressing at www.narth.com/docs/CMApressrelease.pdf. Also, a recent article describes the controversy surrounding the treatment of children with hormones in preparation for trans gender surgery.
Several articles on the transsexual issues, the desire for sex change surgery can be helpful in ministry to families with these conflict:
Dr. Paul Mc Hugh, the former chair person of psychiatry at John Hopkins, has written an excellent article on his study of transsexual surgery there on how he worked to bring to an end this surgery at Hopkins.
Based on his research findings as result of studying these patients before and after surgery Dr. Paul Mc Hugh stated: “I concluded that Hopkins was fundamentally cooperating with a mental illness. We psychiatrists, I thought, would do better to concentrate on trying to fix their minds and not their genitalia." He added, “As for the adults who came to us claiming to have discovered their "true" sexual identity and to have heard about sex-change operations, we psychiatrists have been distracted from studying the causes and natures of their mental misdirections by preparing them for surgery and for a life in the other sex. We have wasted scientific and technical resources and damaged our professional credibility by collaborating with madness rather than trying to study, cure, and ultimately prevent it.”
An article in the National Catholic Bio ethics Quarterly, Spring 2009, assesses the medical, psychological and ethical appropriateness of sexual reassignment surgery. Sexual reassignment surgery (SRS) violates basic medical and ethical principles and is therefore not ethically or medically appropriate. (1) SRS mutilates a healthy, non-diseased body. To perform surgery on a healthy body involves unnecessary risks; therefore, SRS violates the principle primum non nocere, "first, do no harm." (2) Candidates for SRS may believe that they are trapped in the bodies of the wrong sex and therefore desire or, more accurately, demand SRS; however, this belief is generated by a disordered perception of self. Such a fixed, irrational belief is appropriately described as a delusion. SRS, therefore, is a "category mistake." It offers a surgical solution for psychological problems such as a failure to accept the goodness of one's masculinity or femininity, lack of secure attachment relationships in childhood with same-sex peers or a parent, self-rejection, untreated gender identity disorder, addiction to masturbation and fantasy, poor body image, excessive anger, and severe psychopathology in a parent. (3) SRS does not accomplish what it claims to accomplish. It does not change a person's sex; therefore, it provides no true benefit. (4) SRS is a "permanent," effectively unchangeable, and often unsatisfying surgical attempt to change what may be only a temporary (i.e., psychotherapeutically changeable) psychological/psychiatric condition, see: The Psychology of "Sex Reassignment Surgery: Assessing Its Medical, Psychological, and Ethical Appropriateness.
At the very least, health professionals who deal with these individuals and their families should evaluate the part of strong anger with oneself and others, self-pity, childhood trauma, addiction to masturbation and fantasy, envy play and parental emotional conflicts in the development of these conflicts. These persons also should be evaluated for both borderline or narcissistic personality disorders.
In December 2008 Pope Benedict expressed his views about gender, “That which is often expressed and understood by the term Gender, results finally in the self-emancipation of man from creation and from the Creator. Man wishes to act alone and to dispose ever and exclusively of that alone which concerns him. But in this way he is living contrary to the truth, he is living contrary to the Spirit Creator. The tropical forests are deserving, yes, of our protection, but man merits no less than the creature, in which there is written a message which does not mean a contradiction of our liberty, but its condition,” Pope Benedict, December 22, 2008.