Gender freedom: trans parents prefer not to put their children in boxes
Many transgender parents with young children are hesitant to label their offspring’s gender identity, according to new research from a team from Pennsylvania State University and Guilford College in the US.
« Previous research has shown that misidentifying or incorrectly labeling a person’s gender identity often harms a person’s mental and physical health, » said Samantha L. Tornello, lead researcher at the Gender Diverse Parents Study, published in the journal Frontiers in Psychology in mid-August.
“This new research suggests that transgender parents can provide supportive environments for their children to explore their own gender identity and expression,” she said.
The expert and her team also found a strong link between a child’s age and the likelihood of labeling — the older the child, the more likely parents are to label their child’s gender identity .
“This study cannot say whether transgender parents assign their children gendered names or pronouns, or otherwise socialize them in gendered ways,” said study co-author Rachel G. Riskind, associate professor of psychology at Gilford College. But it suggests that transgender parents are reluctant to label their child’s gender identity before the child can communicate it themselves.
Parents were also asked about the sex assigned to their child at birth and their child’s current gender identity.
The team found that 41% of participants did not report their child’s current gender identity, choosing either ‘unknown’, ‘choose not to label’ or ‘self-describe’, with a field of text to write in their response. To “self-describe,” parents often described a gender-fluid child or a child who had not verbalized their gender identity. Several parents wrote: « I think it’s too early to know. »
The study was conducted online with 64 non-binary and binary transgender parents across the United States.
Binary transgender people are those who identify primarily as either female or male; non-binary people are those whose gender identity does not fit into these categories.