From gender identity disorder to gender identity creativity

October 11, 2012

In exercise books, sports line-ups, or in the simple act of going to the bathroom, school children have to answer the seemingly simple question, "are you a boy or a girl?" For Canadian school kids who exhibit cross-gender behaviour or presentation, this question is not only limiting, it's the source of angst.

Childhood gender independence, or gender creativity, is often viewed as an abnormality in need of a cure – but it's that attitude that needs to be fixed, according to Concordia University political science professor, Kimberley Manning. "The majority of gender independent children suppress their identities because of societal pressure. In reality, it's at this young age that these kids need the support and freedom to explore who they really are so that they have a better chance to grow up to be healthy and happy adults," she says.

Gender nonconforming children, many of whom will self-identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and/or queer by the time they hit adolescence, are more likely to be called names, be made fun of, or be bullied at school. Tragically, these same young people are also among the most vulnerable to harassment, violence, post-traumatic stress disorder and suicide. According to a recently completed survey by Egale Canada, a national organization that advocates for human rights, 95 percent of transgender students feel unsafe at school. Clearly, the time to act is now.

There is hope. In recent years, more and more Canadian families have been actively asserting an affirmative approach to gender expression, seeking to understand and support their child's declared gender. There are few resources, however, to support families or to inform educators who are interested in creating safe and inclusive spaces for these children.

Manning is leading a multi-disciplinary group that is doing something to address this lack. "Social science and humanities research can play a vital role in puzzling through the structural oppressions faced by gender independent children and their families," she says.

Along with her colleagues, Elizabeth Meyer, a professor of education at California Polytechnic State University, and Annie Pullen Sansfaçon, a professor of social work at the Université de Montréal, Manning received a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council Insight Development Grant last year to study the challenges faced by parents and educators as well as the opportunities for social mobilization. They are also working with Shuvo Ghosh, a developmental-behavioural pediatrician at the McGill University Health Centre, to establish a Montreal-based Interdisciplinary Research Alliance on Gender Expression in Youth (MIRAGE-Y).

This month, the group will host the National Workshop on Gender Creative Kids, which will welcome social scientists, educators, social workers, health professionals, parents, advocates and students to explore new questions and perspectives in the complex subject of in children.

The National Workshop on Gender Creative Kids takes place at Concordia University October 25-26, 2012. Although the conference is limited to registered participants only, a public keynote address will be held on Thursday, October 25, 7 – 9 p.m, at the D.B. Clarke Amphitheatre (1455 De Maisonneuve Blvd. W.). Speaking will be Dr. Diane Ehrensaft, Developmental and Clinical Psychologist and Director of Mental Health Child and Adolescent Center, San Francisco. Although the talk will be given in English, simultaneous translation will be available in French.

Explore further: Sexual orientation and gender conforming traits in women are genetic

Related Stories

Recommended for you

In analyzing a scene, we make the easiest judgments first

September 3, 2015

Psychology researchers who have hypothesized that we classify scenery by following some order of cognitive priorities may have been overlooking something simpler. New evidence suggests that the fastest categorizations our ...

Forensic examiners pass the face matching test

September 1, 2015

The first study to test the skills of FBI agents and other law enforcers who have been trained in facial recognition has provided a reassuring result - they perform better than the average person or even computers on this ...

1 comment

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

freethinking
1 / 5 (1) Oct 11, 2012
Children who can't identify what sex they are by the time they hit school generally have idiot progressive parents who are so wrapped up in the homosexual agenda they are abusing their children into sexual confusion.

Even though the progressive homosexual and pedophilia lobby is trying to dumb down everyone, the simple biology is this, boys have boy parts, girl have girl parts. If you are a boy, you are male. If you are a girl, you are female.

If you are a boy and want to be a girl or if you are a girl and want to be a boy, you are either confused or have a mental problem.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.