The Grapevine

Transgender Children: When Do Kids Become Sure Of Their Identities, Preferences?

Children can determine their gender identity at a young age. Researchers found that transgender children continue their transition despite getting treatments based on their assigned sex at birth. 

The new study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, shows that transgender children pick toys, clothing and friendships associated with their gender the same way the kids who identify as gender matching their sex at birth. Researchers examined the preferences and behaviors of more than 800 children in the U.S. 

The transgender children, ages 3 to 12, did not undergo medical procedures before and during the study. Researchers said they were only socially transitioned, changing their pronouns, first names and how they dress and play, Futurity reported Tuesday

The team observed all participants through interviews with the children and their parents. They looked into their preferences and sense of their own gender identity.

The study involved more than 300 transgender children, nearly 200 of their cisgender siblings and 300 unrelated cisgender children. Results showed that young transgenders have strong preferences and behaviors associated with their current gender.

“Trans kids are showing strong identities and preferences that are different from their assigned sex,” lead study author Selin Gülgöz, who did the study as postdoctoral researcher at the University of Washington, said. “There is almost no difference between these trans- and cisgender kids of the same gender identity —

both in how, and the extent to which, they identify with their gender or express that gender.”

Following interviews, researchers asked parents to provide photos of their child from birth through toddlerhood. The team analyzed the children’s appearance and behavior at typical social events, such as birthdays and holidays, where they experience sex-specific socialization with the family. 

Another surprising finding is that sex-specific socialization in early childhood did not affect the trans kids’ current gender identity and expression. They continued to their transition despite being treated or guided based on their sex at birth.

“Kids aren’t passive about their environment,” Gülgöz added. “Once they have a sense of their gender identity, they will look for cues from their environment, noticing what society’s expectations are, and attending to information about the gender they identify as.”

child Study shows that sex-specific socialization in early childhood may have no effect on transgender children's identity and expression despite being treated or guided based on their sex at birth. Pixabay