Revisiting Flawed Research Behind the 80% Childhood Gender Dysphoria ‘Desistance’ Myth

Kelley Winters, Ph.D

 

 

In followup to the excellent WPATH Standards of Care, Version 8, meeting at the USPATH conference in February, I would like to re-share my presentation from the 2014 WPATH Symposium titled, “Methodological Questions in Childhood Gender Identity ‘Desistence’ Research.” I’ve formatted it as a video. It includes a specific recommendation to remove unsubstantiated and harmful statements on the statistical likelyhood of non-birth assigned gender identity “persistence” in the section on Childhood Social Transition in the Standards of Care.

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 “desistance” axiom, with respect to methodological rigor and validity of claims.

Please note corrections to slide 27 but not reflected in my original audio recording.

For more information, please see my original 2014 blog post about this presentation.

 

References
American Psychiatric Association (2014). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (5th ed.). Arlington, VA: Author.

Byne, W., Bradley, S.J., Coleman, E., Eyler, A.E., Green, R., Menvielle, E.J., Meyer-Bahlburg, H.F.L., Pleak, R.R. & Tompkins, D.A. (2012). Report of the American Psychiatric Association Task Force on Treatment of Gender Identity Disorder. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 41(4):759-796.

Drescher, J. (2013) “Sunday Dialogue: Our Notions of Gender,” New York Times, June 29, http://www.nytimes.com/2013/06/30/opinion/sunday/sunday-dialogue-our-notions-of-gender.html

Drummond, Kelley D.; Bradley, Susan J.; Peterson-Badali, Michele; Zucker, Kenneth J. (2008), “A follow-up study of girls with gender identity disorder,” Developmental Psychology. Vol 44(1), Jan 2008, 34-45.

Kennedy, N. (2012) “Transgender children: more than a theoretical challenge,” Goldsmiths College, University of London, http://academia.edu/2760086/

Reed, B., Rhodes, S., Schofield, P., Wylie, K., (2009) “Gender variance in the UK. Prevalence, incidence, growth and geographic distribution,” GIRES – the Gender Identity Research and Education Society, http://www.gires.org.uk/assets/Medpro-Assets/GenderVarianceUK-report.pdf

Steensma, T.D., Biemond, R., de Boer, F. & Cohen-Kettenis, P.T. (2011). Desisting and persisting gender dysphoria after childhood: A qualitative follow-up study. Clinical Child Psychology & Psychiatry, 16(4):499-516.

Wallien, M.S.C. & Cohen-Kettenis, P.T. (2008). Psychosexual outcome of gender-dysphoric children. J American Academy Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, 47:1413-1423.

Winters, K. (2013) Response to Dr. Jack Drescher and the NY Times About Childhood Transition, GID Reform Weblog, July 5, https://gidreform.wordpress.com/category/childhood-social-transition/

World Professional Association for Transgender Health (2011), Standards of Care for the Health of Transsexual, Transgender, and Gender Nonconforming People: Author. http://www.wpath.org

About gidreform
Kelley Winters, Ph.D.is a writer on issues of transgender medical policy, founder of GID Reform Advocates and an Advisory Board Member for TransYouth Family Advocates. She has presented papers on the psychiatric classification of gender diversity at the annual conventions of the American Psychiatric Association, the American Counseling Association and the Association of Women in Psychology.

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