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Media, Women’s Mental Health Network

26 January, 2019

Misconceptions about gender dysphoria

Kirsty Donohue and her son Dylan, who is transgender at home. Photograph: Laura Hutton - Photo courtesy of The Irish Times
Kirsty Donohue and her son Dylan, who is transgender at home. Photograph: Laura Hutton - Photo courtesy of The Irish Times

Gender dysphoria involves a conflict between a person's physical or assigned gender and the person's gender identity.

Tags:   Gender Dysphoria   Gender   The Irish Times  

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In this article Jennifer O’Connell, features writer with the Irish Times, clears up some misconceptions about gender dysphoria and presents a balanced view of the medical, scientific, social and legal issues, including looking at how gender dysphoria is diagnosed and treated in young people. Dr Aileen Murtagh, Consultant Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist, and Assistant Medical Director with special responsibility for Adolescent Mental Health services at St Patrick’s, shares her professional expertise and explains why everyone’s gender identity and journey is unique.

Dr Aileen Murtagh

Dr Aileen Murtagh MB BAO BCh  MRCPsych MCPSychI MSc is a Consultant Child & Adolescent Psychiatrist and Assistant Medical Director with Special Responsibility for Adolescent Mental Health Services in St Patrick’s Mental Health Services. Her special interests include Gender Dysphoria, early onset psychosis, e-learning and mental health training for teachers. She has years of experience working with young people and their families in a wide variety of settings.

She has been involved in teaching a wide range of groups including GPs, teachers, Special Needs Assistants, educational psychologists, parents, allied health professionals, medical students, postgraduate psychiatric trainees and secondary school students. She has developed blended learning courses for the College of Psychiatrists of Ireland and interactive e-learning courses for teachers.

She has been a guest lecturer in UCD, Trinity College, Church of Ireland College of Education, Mary Immaculate College, Limerick, NUIGalway and teacher education centres in Tallaght, Drumcondra and Athlone

Academic & professional qualifications

  • Bachelor of Medicine, MB BAO BCh (Hons); National University of Ireland, Galway
  • Masters in CBT for Children & Adolescents (First Class Hons) Msc
  • Certificate of Satisfactory Completion of Specialist Training in Child & Adolescent Psychiatry (CSCST)
  • Member of the College of Psychiatrists of Ireland MCPsychI
  • Member of the Royal College of Psychiatrists, UK MRCPsych

Research & publications

She has published and presented nationally and internationally on early onset psychosis, mental health training for teachers, ADHD and bipolar disorder. A few of these publications are listed below: 

Psychotic symptoms, functioning and coping in adolescents with mental illness.
Johanna Wigman, Nina Devlin, Ian Kelleher, Aileen Murtagh, Michelle Harley, Anne Keogh, Carol Fitzpatrick, Mary Cannon.
BMC Psychiatry 2014, 14:97 

Psychotic experiences in a mental health clinic sample: implications for suicidality, multimorbidity and functioning.
Ian Kelleher, Nina Devlin, Johanna Wigman, Anne Keogh, Aileen Murtagh, Carol Fitzpatrick, Mary Cannon.
Psychological Medicine 2013 Sep 12:1-10

Neurocognitive performance of a community-based sample of young people at putative ultra high risk for psychosis: Support for the processing speed hypothesis.
Ian Kelleher, Aileen Murtagh, Mary Clarke, Jennifer Murphy, Caroline Rawdon, Mary Cannon.
Cognitive Neuropsychiatry  2012 DOI:10.1080/13546805.2012.682363. 

Identification and Characterization of Prodromal Risk Syndromes in Young Adolescents in the Community: A Population-based Clinical Interview Study
Ian Kelleher, Aileen Murtagh, Charlene Molloy, Sarah Roddy, Mary Clarke, Michelle Harley, Mary Cannon
Schizophrenia Bulletin 2012; 38(2): 239-46 

Structural and functional brain correlates of subclinical psychotic symptoms in 11 to 13  year old schoolchildren.
Sarah Jacobson, Ian Kelleher, Dr Michelle Harley, Dr Aileen Murtagh, Mary Clarke, Mathieu Blanchard, Colm Connolly, Erik O’Hanlon, Prof Hugh Garavan, Prof Mary Cannon.
Neuroimage 2010 Jan 15; 49(2): 1875-85.

 Psychotic Symptoms in Children and Adolescents.
Dr Michelle Harley, Dr Aileen Murtagh, Ian Kelleher, Prof Mary Cannon.
In: Adolescent Schizophrenia, JT Nillinghouse & RP Trotman: Nova Science Publishers, Inc (US) 2009, pgs 39-52. 

Are Screening Instruments Valid for Psychotic-Like Experiences?
A Validation Study of Screening Questions for Psychotic-Like Experiences using In-Depth Clinical Interview.
Ian Kelleher, Dr Michelle Harley, Dr Aileen Murtagh Prof  Mary Cannon.
Schizophrenia Bulletin  First published online June 19, 2009 

Conduct disorder: psychiatry’s greatest opportunity for prevention.
Dr Michelle Harley, Dr Aileen Murtagh, Prof Mary Cannon.
Psychological Medicine 2008 Jul 38(7): 929-31

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