A new report from researchers at the University of Washington has found that transgender children feel equally as much like girls and boys as non-transgender children.
What are the details?
The study, which was conducted on U.S. children, “allowed observers to see” how 317 transgender adolescent participants “conformed to social gender norms.” It was published Monday in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Children in the study ranged in age from 3 to 12 and were compared to 316 cisgender children.
Selin Gulgoz, first author of the study, told Agence France-Presse that the study reflects whether children are acting on actual biological evidence or whether it’s simply a phase to outgrow. Researchers examined the children’s preferred toys, whether their playmates are male or female, and if their preferred clothing leaned more feminine or masculine.
“People have questioned whether these kids are pretending or whether, you know, it’s a phase,” Gugolz said. “[N]ot only do transgender kids show identity and gender type preferences consistent with their current gender identity, they showed [it] to the same extent as cisgender kids do.”
Researchers found that a transgender boy “generally behaves like any other 10-year-old boy” based on toys and friends despite being raised his entire preceding life as a girl.
The report added, “Once children identify themselves as a girl or a boy (regardless of what their assigned sex is), they might look for ways in which people around them fulfill these roles and then try to be like them.”
“The most surprising finding is, overall, just how similar transgender and cisgender kids looked,” Gulgoz told Newsweek. “What this means is that, if I saw the data of any random participant, I would not be able to tell if that child is transgender or cisgender.”
Gulgoz added, “Within both transgender and cisgender children, we find a wide range in the strength of their identity and preferences. For example, we had some ‘tomboy’ transgender girls in the study, just as we had ‘tomboy’ cisgender girls.”
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