Factors associated with desistence and persistence of childhood gender dysphoria: A quantitative follow-up study

Thomas D. Steensma, Jenifer K. McGuire, Baudewijntje P.C. Kreukels, Anneke J. Beekman, Peggy T. Cohen-Kettenis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

170 Scopus citations

Abstract

Objective: To examine the factors associated with the persistence of childhood gender dysphoria (GD), and to assess the feelings of GD, body image, and sexual orientation in adolescence. Method: The sample consisted of 127 adolescents (79 boys, 48 girls), who were referred for GD in childhood (<12 years of age) and followed up in adolescence. We examined childhood differences among persisters and desisters in demographics, psychological functioning, quality of peer relations and childhood GD, and adolescent reports of GD, body image, and sexual orientation. We examined contributions of childhood factors on the probability of persistence of GD into adolescence. Results: We found a link between the intensity of GD in childhood and persistence of GD, as well as a higher probability of persistence among natal girls. Psychological functioning and the quality of peer relations did not predict the persistence of childhood GD. Formerly nonsignificant (age at childhood assessment) and unstudied factors (a cognitive and/or affective cross-gender identification and a social role transition) were associated with the persistence of childhood GD, and varied among natal boys and girls. Conclusion: Intensity of early GD appears to be an important predictor of persistence of GD. Clinical recommendations for the support of children with GD may need to be developed independently for natal boys and for girls, as the presentation of boys and girls with GD is different, and different factors are predictive for the persistence of GD.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)582-590
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry
Volume52
Issue number6
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 2013
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Copyright:
Copyright 2014 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.

Keywords

  • childhood gender dysphoria
  • desistence
  • persistence
  • sexual orientation
  • social role transitioning

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