Can Children Know, At Age 2, They Were Born The ‘Wrong Sex’?

From NPR:

by Barbara J King
May 24, 2012

Kathryn’s Dad thought she was going through a tomboy phase. Kathryn’s Mom suspected it might be something more. From the age of two onwards, Kathryn herself was utterly certain: “I am a boy,” the child insisted.

Kathryn’s story was told on the front page of The Washington Post last Sunday, and I found it a gripping tale. It explores Kathryn’s sense, expressed consistently through her toddler years, that she is a boy, and her parents’ “upheaval” in trying to do the right thing by their child. When Kathryn was four, after seeking professional counseling, the parents decided to let her live as a boy.

Tyler (the pseudonym chosen by the Post for Kathryn’s new name) now dresses as a boy and attends preschool as a boy. Is Tyler a transgender child, with a natal sex (female) that does not match his gender identity (male)? Can children so young really know their own gender identity? How can families best support these children?

In a course I teach at William and Mary, Evolutionary Perspectives on Gender, my students and I grapple with questions of this nature. One of our primary texts is Sexing the Body by Anne Fausto-Sterling, a biologist and gender-studies expert at Brown University. Three days ago, I spoke with Fausto-Sterling by telephone about some of these issues.

Fausto-Sterling takes a dynamic systems approach to gender identity, one where a number of influences work together as a system to affect a child’s experience of gender. She is interested in what happens as the child begins, especially in the second year of life, to move more fully into symbolic thinking, as expressed through verbal language and symbolic play.

Continue reading at:

3 Responses to “Can Children Know, At Age 2, They Were Born The ‘Wrong Sex’?”

  1. edithpilkington Says:

    Long story, very long story short. Sexing the body is a very important book if one understands that the raw data and history of sex research is essential to understanding the nature of sex and difference but that Fausto-Sterling’s passion for the material she presents is motivated by her struggle as a woman in the male dominated world of science and the fact that she was a woman who, late n life, came out as a lesbian who had previously been in a heterosexual marriage with children.

    Also essential to understanding Fausto-Sterling’s work is what she writes about the differences between Frank Beach an C. W. Young. Fausto-Sterling embraces the “concept” of gender identity disorder. She also freely quotes people like J. Michael Bailey. I find systems theory and the work of Ansermet and Adrienne Harris but a lot of what she gives away in her lectures is reminiscent of John Money and indicates a tabula rasa, social constructivist view of human development that seems blind to physical reality unless she’s making comparisons between herself and someone like Dierdre McClosky, which I have witnessed her do, publicly. Viewed objectively, her work is essential but the irony is that she is the same as the male scientists she rails against. She’s searching for data to justify her own biases.

  2. BlackSwan Says:

    They are never going to get it. Unless we pop out of the womb and go “boy[girl]” they are never going to get this is a birth condition. We need a test to let docs know what it is we really are… a genetic advancement.

  3. oatc Says:

    What a shame to have such a profoundly mistaken article with the imprimatur of NPR, after several quite outstandingly enlightened ones over recent years, not least the two-part expose of Zucker’s “reparative” methods.

    Fausto-Sterling has nothing to contribute on this issue, and so neither does her devotee, the author. They, and all the other pseudo-experts do anything to avoid listening to the child. I mean really listening, not just hearing or seeing enough to slap on a misleading label like “transgender”, or “gender variant”, but enough to distinguish the child who is already transsexual.

    Yes, it would be good to have a “scientific’ test as well, but that may not be genetic. There are several potential indicators but the refusal by clinics to accept the most obvious, and reliable pre-pubertal indicator of transsexualism in a child, and thus to even accept that it is other than random which child needs a switched puberty, has prevented any of those being investigated.

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: