Gender variance in childhood/adolescence: gender identity journeys not involving physical intervention

Prof Doc Thesis

Le Roux, Niccie 2013. Gender variance in childhood/adolescence: gender identity journeys not involving physical intervention. Prof Doc Thesis University of East London School of Psychology
AuthorsLe Roux, Niccie
TypeProf Doc Thesis

Much of the current literature on gender-variant children and young people focuses on aetiology and developmental outcomes in adolescence, whereas their developmental experiences have been neglected. Furthermore, there is little understanding about the experiences of gender-variant youth for whom gender reassignment does not offer a straightforward solution.
This qualitative study interviewed 10 gender-variant young people (Mean age = 20; range 17-27) who were not actively pursuing gender reassignment. The aim was to gain a better understanding of the developmental process of their gender identity development and how they made sense of their gender variance; the challenges that they faced; the resources that they drew upon; and what is important to them. A grounded theory methodology was adopted.
The period between the approximate ages of 9 and 14 years was identified as crucial in their gender identity development and as a significant developmental challenge. A widening social gap between male and female gender roles and an emergent homosexual identity influenced how they made sense of their gender-variant expression and their bodily development, which in turn was situated within a context of widespread social exclusion. This promoted a profound lack of social belonging, which for most translated into a sense of not belonging in their bodies. A transgender identity afforded social membership, but brought with it a variety of challenges. A range of gender identities and views on gender reassignment were identified, that do not neatly fit into current conceptions of desisting and persisting gender dysphoria. Education on gender variance within the public, educational and health domain was an important priority for the participants. The findings of this study contribute to our understanding of the developmental trajectories of gender variant youth. It also intimates a number of recommendations for future research and clinical practice.

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Publication dates
PrintDec 2013
Publication process dates
Deposited27 Jan 2014
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