Dec 29, 2019
In the struggle over transgender rights in America and the U.K., no debate has drawn more heat and animosity than the so-called “transing” of children: parents who support their transgender kids are portrayed as monsters, abusers, selfish Svengalis and perpetrators of Munchausen syndrome by proxy.
Now comes actual scientific evidence that these parents of trans children are, in fact, heroes, because they did something essential to every child’s health and wellness: they accepted them and loved them for who they are.
You’ll find that evidence in a scholarly research article, but also in a tweet quoting that paper, that provides a very clear answer to those vocal critics and opponents of gender transition: a child’s authentic gender does not depend on what the birth certificate says, what’s between their legs, or even how their parents raise them.
“Our findings suggest that early sex assignment and parental rearing based on that sex assignment do not always define how a child identifies or expresses gender later.”
This conclusion is from a new study, the largest of its kind in the world, that compared transgender children with boys and girls who identify as “cisgender.” That’s a word derived from the Latin prefix, “cis,” which means “on this side of;” it’s used to identify anyone who sees themself as a gender that matches the sex they were presumed to be at birth, and is listed on their birth certificates and medical records. “Cis” is not a slur.
“Trans,” incidentally, is also a Latin prefix, meaning “across from,” and is used to denote someone who is “not cis.”
Researchers at the University of Washington in Seattle found gender identity — the concept of knowing whether one’s self is male, female or non-binary — is as strong in trans kids as it is among those identifying as cis. This was true regardless of how long a child has been treated as being a gender with which they don’t identify, according to the UW social scientists.
The study was published last month in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the official journal of the National Academy of Sciences.
Another key finding of this study: transgender children’s gender development mirrors that of cisgender kids, and they can start to identify with toys and clothes in line with their authentic gender identity from a very young age.