Photo by the TransYouth Project
By Siobhan Becker
A recent study conducted by the TransYouth Project found that transgender children between the ages five- and 12-years old have an understanding of their gender identities.
The study, conducted by Nicholas Eaton, an assistant professor of psychology at Stony Brook University, and his colleagues at the TransYouth Project, produced results that challenge the previous assumptions that transgender youth are confused about their gender, or that they lack a basic understanding of gender such a young age. The study’s initial findings will be published later this month in Psychological Science, a monthly journal.
“We did not really know what to expect when we began the study,” Eaton said. “We reviewed the literature and came up with several reasonable possible outcomes, reflecting predictions from different theories. Thus, when we got our results, it was nice that they fit into one of our possible outcome patterns, and we could interpret them easily.”
According to their website, the TransYouth Project was developed to “help scientists, educators, parents, and children better understand the varieties of human gender development.”
The TransYouth Project studied 32 transgender children living as their gender identity, 18 of their siblings, and 32 gender-typical children that acted as the control group. The children were asked to complete basic and complicated tasks, ranging from stating their gender identity to performing computerized tasks.
The transgender children resembled members of the control group in gender identity rather than biological sex, with the multiple forms of mistreatment that lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people are often to subjected to in mind.
Eaton said that he and his colleagues decided to study transgender children living at home with supportive families to understand their conceptions about gender that they developed from a nonjudgmental environment.
“To really help transgender kids be healthy and happy, it appears that we need major support structures in place in a variety of domains of life, and we also need to become more accepting as a culture of gender diversity,” Eaton said.
Eaton added that he hopes to study transgender teenagers in the near future.
“Studying trans individuals across the lifespan is a critical question, Eaton said. “It helps us learn about their lived experiences, of course, and it can also be informative for our understanding of gender identity and development in general.”