It has been discovered that young children who undergo social changes, such as changing their names, pronouns, haircuts, and clothing, are more likely to continue identifying as that gender five years later. This is the first study of its kind to be published on Wednesday, and the findings were published in the journal Pediatrics.
Those figures came from the Trans Youth Project, a well-known study that followed 317 children from throughout the United States and Canada as they went through a period known as “social transition” between the ages of three and twelve. Participants moved into adulthood on average at the age of 6.5.
According to the findings of the research, the great majority of the participants still identified with their new gender five years after transitioning, and many had began using hormone drugs in adolescence to trigger biological changes that were consistent with their gender identities. According to the findings of the research, 2.5 percent of the participants had returned to identifying as the gender that had been assigned to them at birth.
As the debate over acceptable health care for transgender children heats up in courtrooms and statehouses around the nation, there has been little clear evidence to depend on in terms of their long-term development. It is one of the first major data sets on this population to be provided by the new research. It is planned that the researchers will continue to observe this group for another 20 years after their social transformations have begun.
Dr. Olson and other experts, on the other hand, cautioned that the findings of the study may not be applicable to all transgender youngsters. For example, two-thirds of the participants were white, and the parents had greater incomes and higher levels of education than the overall population. All of the parents were supportive enough to allow their children to make complete social adjustments.
Furthermore, since the research started about a decade ago, it is uncertain if the findings are representative of current trends, given the fact that many more youngsters are identifying as trans. Approximately two-thirds of the study’s participants identified as transgender females who were born into a boy’s body. However, in recent years, youth gender clinics throughout the globe have observed an increase in the number of teenage patients who were assigned to be females at birth but who have lately identified as trans guys or nonbinary.
This population also has a high prevalence of mental health issues, such as autism and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), according to Laura Edwards-Leeper, a clinical psychologist in Oregon who specialises in the treatment of transgender children. In her words, “that’s actually the group I’m most worried about right now.”
It was in 2013 that the Trans Youth Project researchers started recruiting participants. They interviewed families in more than 40 states and two Canadian provinces. It is uncommon to get such in-depth information in this sort of study, which is often based on online surveys or data collected from children referred to specialist gender clinics, who are typically older and come from a more restricted geographic region.
Previous published research from the study found that children who were supported by their parents throughout social transitions had rates of sadness and anxiety that were about equivalent to those of non-transgender children, with somewhat higher rates of depression in the transgender population.
The current research, which was published in the journal Pediatrics, followed this group as they approached a milestone that occurred about five years after their first social shifts occurred. Five years after the survey was conducted, 94 percent of the participants identified as transgender, according to the findings. Furthermore, 3.5% self-described as “nonbinary,” which means they did not identify as either males or girls. When the researchers started the study, that term wasn’t as extensively used as it is now, according to the researchers.
Sixty percent of the youngsters had begun taking hormones or puberty-blocking medicines by the conclusion of the trial period in 2020, according to the researchers. As of now, the researchers are still gathering information on how many of the adolescent volunteers have had gender surgery, according to Dr. Olson.
Eight children, or 2.5 percent of the population, had reverted back to the gender that had been assigned to them when they were born. Seven of them had socially transitioned before the age of six and had socially transitioned back by the age of nine, according to the study. The eighth kid, who was 11 years old at the time, reverted after being placed on puberty-blocking medication.
Gender variety has gained acceptability in society in the decades after that study was completed, medical practise has evolved, and the number of transgender youngsters has risen dramatically.
According to the findings of the current research, transgender youngsters who are supported by their parents are more successful in their identities. Nonetheless, it’s probable that some of the children who remained transgender at the conclusion of the research — or their parents — felt pressure to continue on the route they had begun.
Dr. Tishelman believes that although most doctors agree that social transitions may be beneficial for certain children who are questioning their given gender, it is equally necessary to provide support to those who change their minds.
More data on the cohort as it progresses through adolescence may indicate how many youngsters decide to detransition after commencing hormone treatment.
Dr. Olson said that her group will be releasing an additional qualitative research in the near future that would explore the experiences of the very small percentage of youngsters in the cohort who choose to return to their previous gender identification after switching. She said that these youngsters fared well when they were supported by their relatives.