Methodological Questions in Childhood Gender Identity ‘Desistence’ Research
February 25, 2014 1 Comment
Kelley Winters, Ph.D.
GID Reform Advocates
An expanded presentation to the 23rd World Professional Association for Transgender Health Biennial Symposium, Feb. 16, 2014, Bangkok, Thailand. (Presented remotely, from Loveland, Colorado, USA)
It is frequently repeated in mental health literature and popular media that the vast majority of children whose gender identity differs from their assigned birth-sex, or who are severly distressed by their birth-sex, will “desist” in their gender identities and gender dysphoria by adolescence. As a consequence, gender dysphoric children are pressed to remain in their birth-assigned roles throughout the world. But are gender dysphoria and diverse gender identities just a phase?
This presentation reexamines research in Canada and The Netherlands that underlies the “desistence” axiom, with respect to methodological rigor and validity of claims.
(1) Evidence from these studies suggests that the majority of gender nonconforming children are not gender dysphoric adolescents or adults.
(2) It does not support the stereotype that most children who are actually gender dysphoric will “desist” in their gender identities before adolescence.
(3) These studies do acknowledge that intense anatomic dysphoria in childhood may be associated with persistent gender dysphoria and persistent gender identity through adolescence.
(4) Speculation that allowing childhood social transition traps cisgender youth in roles that are incongruent with their identities is not supported by evidence.
(5) These studies fail to examine the diagnostic value of Real Life Experience in congruent gender roles for gender dysphoric children.
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