|via National Geographic, 2016|
A study titled Similarity in transgender and cisgender children’s gender development was published on Monday to the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. I note that this was in peer review for nearly six months. The study was conducted by the University of Washington Department of Psychology. Among the 11 investigators is Kristina R. Olson, founder of the TransYouth project.
What the study demonstrates is that transgender and cisgender children are remarkably similar in the way that gender determines the toys, clothing, activities and friends that the children are drawn to. In other words, the transgender children and the cisgender children showed very similar behaviors and preferences with respect to those things that are influenced by gender.
Researchers have also determined that gender does not change over time. The process of gender development among transgender and cisgender children is comparable.
According to Dr. Olson, senior author:
While in both groups there were, for example, some tomboys, on average, most transgender girls, like their cisgender counterparts, wore stereotypically feminine clothing, chose toys such as dolls to play with, preferred playing with female playmates, and identified themselves clearly as girls, and not boys. Thus the transgender group looked similar to the cisgender group in both the range of responses and the most common responses.
The study followed more than 300 transgender children from across the United States, as well as nearly 200 of their cisgender siblings and about 300 unrelated cisgender children as a control group. The trans kids ranged in age from three to 12. All of the trans children had socially transitioned but none were medically transitioned. All of the trans kids had adopted gender-appropriate pronouns and first names.
Why is this important? Transitioning probably has no effect on gender identity one way or the other. In other words, transitioning doesn’t lock a kid into an identity.
At the risk of editorializing, this is further confirmation of the simple proposition that transgender and gender nonconforming children are perfectly normal. Gender presents a natural variation of human sexuality.