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Similarities Found Among Transgender and Cisgender Children

The researchers noted several important findings:

  • The transgender children identified as their preferred gender and their choices reflected that identity.

“This meant, for example, that transgender boys (assigned females), on average, identified as boys, favored stereotypically masculine toys and clothes, and preferred to be friends with boys,” the authors wrote.

  • When the researchers compared the transgender children’s gender development to that of their siblings and other cisgender children, they found similarities in the groups’ identities. For example, 84% of transgender children, 87% of their siblings, and 83% of the other cisgender children identified as their current gender.

The three groups were also similar in terms of gender variability. For example, both groups had girls whose responses were “more” feminine or “less” feminine.

  • All groups had a sense of coherence in their gender development. The authors explained, “This means that, for example, children who showed more stereotypical toy preferences also tended to show stronger gender identification and stereotypical clothing preferences.”
  • The amount of time transgender children had spent as their current gender didn’t seem to affect their gender identity. In other words, a child who transitioned at age five could have similar feelings of identity as one who transitioned at age eight.

It remains to be seen, however, whether the children’s gender identities remain steady over time, the authors noted. The findings might not apply to all children either, as children from other cultures and socioeconomic conditions could have different experiences.


Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America

Gülgöz, Selin, et al.

“Similarity in transgender and cisgender children’s gender development”

(Full-text. First published: November 18, 2020)

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