Transgender populations are understudied, according to the American Psychological Association. The study will deepen the available literature about transgender children and could become a resource for transgender children and their families, Gulgoz said.
Understanding the findings could help adults better support children when it comes to gender identity, said Aidan Key, executive director of Gender Diversity, a Seattle-based organization supporting transgender people and their families. Key, a transgender man, has written and spoken extensively about children's gender identity and is working on a book due out in late 2020 titled "Trans Children in Today's Schools" (Oxford University Press).
"It's not about the end destination," he said. "It's about making room for kids to explore and find their way."
As with any study, the findings come with limitations and caveats: The transgender children involved had all socially transitioned and all came from at least somewhat supportive families that tended to be well-off financially. The study didn't include children who use nonbinary pronouns such as "they." About 68% of the children participating in the study were white, with the next-largest racial group being "other/multiracial," at 9%. Researchers noted in the PNAS paper that they need to better understand how their findings hold up across race, a range of household incomes, and differing political ideologies and level of education among parents.
Previous UW research has shown that transgender children's sense of gender identity was consistent whether it was tested before or after they transitioned socially. In a news statement about the more recent study, Olson explained: "Our data thus far suggest that the act of transitioning probably isn't affecting gender identity one way or the other."
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