STUDY: Transgender parents unwilling to label children's gender identities

Transgender and non-binary parents are unwilling to label their children's gender, a study found.

Several parents stated that it was 'too early to know' the gender of their child, or defined the child as 'gender-fluid.'

An August study published by Pennsylvania State University (PSU) and Guilford College (GC) professors revealed that transgedner or non-binary parents are reportedly hesitant to “label” their child’s gender.

The study, authored by PSU professor Samantha L. Tornello and GU professor Rachel Riskind, included analysis of 64 “nonbinary or binary transgender parents” with children ages 18-71 months old.

Participants were invited to submit online surveys that asked questions about the “sex assigned at birth” and current gender identities of the family. Participants completed a list of measures that analyzed their children's behaviors to determine the child’s perceived identity.

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Part of the survey required participants to complete the Pre-School Activities Inventory, which asked parents about their child’s interests and activity preferences.

The study concluded that 41% of participants “did not report their child’s current gender identity.” Instead, those parents opted to write “unknown,” “choose not the label,” or “self-describe” instead. 

Several parents stated that it was “too early to know” the gender of their child, or defined the child as “gender-fluid.”

Multiple participants also “described children who alternate between female and male identities or between binary and nonbinary identities or expression,” the results showed.

100% of participants reported that their child was “assigned a binary sex at birth.” The study also concluded that male children had “significantly higher” gender expansiveness scores.

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Erik Suarez, a PSU alumni and former Campus Reform Correspondent, told Campus Reform he believes it “is wrong to assume that because children play with different kinds of toys they somehow fit in a different gender.”

“Those personalities outside the normality don’t make someone a different gender,” Suarez continued. “I think nowadays we push these complex modern ideas to children who are not in any way ready to hold or understand these conversations, and grow up to be confused about who they really are, sometimes regretting it as adults.”

According to the study, “social systems in industrialized democracies assume fetus’ and newborns’ gender identity labels based on external genital appearance,” while the number of parents who “decline to label their infants as a girl or boy remain rare enough to attract media coverage.”

The professors further claim that “unlike many cisgender parents, transgender parents may be particularly aware that misgendering young children can harm children’s mental and physical health.”

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“Some believe that parent gender identity has either everything, or nothing, to do with child gender expression. But this study suggests that the truth is somewhere in between,” Tornello said in a PSU news article.

25%-50% of the transgender community are parents, a 2021 study published in the Journal of Family Psychology claims.

Lisa Powers, PSU Senior Director of News and Media Relations, told Campus Reform that “[a]ny report or study by faculty comes from critical examination of data.”

“Universities across the country have always been considered a safe haven for scientists to examine complex issues,” she stated.

Campus Reform contacted all parties mentioned and will update accordingly.