Young Trans Children Know Who They Are

Young Trans Children Know Who They Are: A new study shows that gender-nonconforming kids who go on to transition already have a strong sense of their true identity—one that differs from their assigned gender.

Published in: The Atlantic. January 15, 2019. Author: Ed Yong

“This study provides further credence to guidance that practitioners and other professionals should affirm—rather than question—a child’s assertion of their gender, particularly for those who more strongly identify with their gender,” says Russell Toomey from the University of Arizona, who studies LGBTQ youth and is himself transgender…”

““When the 85 gender-nonconforming children first enrolled in Olson’s study, her team administered a series of five tests that asked what toys and clothes they preferred; whether they preferred hanging out with girls or boys; how similar they felt to girls or boys; and which genders they felt they currently were or would be. Together, these markers of identity gave the team a way to quantify each kid’s sense of gender.”

“The team, including James Rae, now at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, found that children who showed stronger gender nonconformity at this point were more likely to socially transition. So, for example, assigned boys who had the most extreme feminine identities were most likely to be living as girls two years later. This link couldn’t be explained by other factors, such as how liberal the children’s parents were. Instead, the children’s gender identity predicted their social transitions. “I think this wouldn’t surprise parents of trans kids, and my findings are often ‘duh’ findings for them,” says Olson. “It seems pretty intuitive.””

“…“The findings of this compelling study provide further evidence that decisions to socially transition are driven by a child’s understanding of their own gender,” says Toomey. “This is critically important information given that recent public debates and flawed empirical studies erroneously implicate ‘pushy’ parents, peers, or other sources, like social media, in the rising prevalence of children and adolescents who identify as transgender.””