An exploration of the Body Image Scale in young people: A comparison of persons with features of gender dysphoria and control samples

Webb, India (2015) An exploration of the Body Image Scale in young people: A comparison of persons with features of gender dysphoria and control samples. Professional Doctorate thesis, Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust. Full text available

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Body image is seen as a central component to those who identify as transgender, that is, a feeling of incongruence between bodily features and assigned gender. Previous research has suggested high rates of body dissatisfaction within adolescent general population samples. Therefore, it is critical that clinicians are able to identify and disentangle distress related to gender and the body, from that of general body dissatisfaction. Furthermore, adolescent transgender persons are an understudied group in the psychological literature and many studies looking at body image in this population have been conducted using small sample sizes. The Body Image Scale (BIS) is used in gender services (GS) around the world and consists of 30 body features that the person is asked to rate in terms of satisfaction with those parts on a 5-point scale. However, there are no studies currently published where the scale has been normed in control samples within young persons populations. This is an important clinical issue as the BIS is used as part of the assessment process in GS‟s. This quantitative study is an exploration of the similarities and/or differences in body-part satisfaction in a control sample (n = 262) and in those referred to the UK Gender Identity Development Service (n= 403) using the BIS. The BIS compares primary, secondary and neutral bodily characteristics as well as differences between the sexes and ages of participants between and within the two populations. Results showed persons with gender dysphoria were significantly more dissatisfied with their bodies than the control group. In addition, this dissatisfaction increased with age during pubertal development, particularly in the clinical group. In the clinical group, natal (biological) males were more dissatisfied with their primary and neutral sexual characteristics, where as in the control group natal females were more dissatisfied than males across all sexual characteristics. Implications for research, service provision and clinical psychology practice are discussed.

Item Type: Thesis (Professional Doctorate)
Additional Information: Thesis submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements of the University of East London for the degree of Professional Doctorate in Clinical Psychology via Specialist Clinical Psychology Placement with the Gender Identity Development Service at the Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust
Subjects: Sex Psychology > Gender Identity
Department/People: Special Units

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