Sunday, February 1, 2015

Trans* Children and Gender Identity

A recent study conducted at the University of Washington by Dr. Kristina Olson found that trans* kids show consistent gender identity across various measures. Olson and her colleagues studied 32 trans* children between the ages of 5 and 12 in one of the first projects concerning gender identity in trans* children using implicit measures that operate outside conscious awareness.

There has been a lot of controversy over whether pre-pubertal children should be able to determine whether they are trans* - many experts have claimed that the best approach in dealing with “gender-variant” children is to encourage them to be comfortable with their assigned gender. In recent years, however, more professionals have begun advocating for allowing children to live as their identified gender.

Using both self-report data and implicit measures (e.g., the Implicit Association Test (IAT)) and comparing results with those of matched pairs cisgender children, Olson and co. found that trans* children’s responses were indistinguishable from those of the cisgender children. For example, trans* girls preferred to be friends with other girls and preferred toys and foods that the cisgender girls in the study also preferred.

These findings are hugely important for trans* advocates because they show that trans* children do indeed exist, and that their identities are deeply held and unwavering from a young age.

Hope everyone is having a great week - I look forward to seeing you all soon!  

1 comment:

  1. Josh,
    This is an interesting subset of the whole "nature" v. "nurture" debate. It seems we are who we are, from a very young age. Although this is a small sample, do you have any data on percentages of young children that identify as trans* at an early age, and compared to later as young adults? This is a new area for Fellows research, so I'm sure we have much to learn.