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New Study Shows High Desistance Among Transgender Children

Photo credit goes to Ted Eytan on Flickr. The license for this photo can be found here.

Many children outgrew their transgenderism in a sample of 139 children, a follow-up study published this year in Frontiers in Psychology reports. As claimed by the authors, this is the largest study observing clinically referred adolescent boys. Since its publication the study has received notably attention on Twitter and has over 90 academic citations on Google Scholar.

The study comes out of Dr. Kenneth Zucker’s lab at The University of Toronto and is first authored by Dr. Devita Singh, both established psychologists. Dr. Devita Singh is a psychologist at McKenzie Psychology in London, Ontario.

The study participants were approximately 8 years old when they were first clinically examined for gender dysphoria. During the follow-up portion of the study, participants were examined at a mean age of around 20 years old.

63.3% of the boys were gender dysphoric when they were first examined, as classified by definitive terms of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.

When researchers conducted their follow-up data collection only 12.2% were still gender dysphoric. 87.8% had desisted from gender dysphoria (out grew it).

The authors note, “Nonetheless, in the broadest sense, our data were quite consistent with the general finding from the prior follow-up studies that desistance from gender dysphoria is by far the more common outcome.

The study adds to a handful of scientific papers reporting adolescents desisting from gender dysphoria. A study coming out of Amsterdam under the supervisor of Dr. Thomas Steensma, reported 29.1% of gender dysphoric children did not out grow their transgenderism. In other academic publications Dr. Zucker has argued against immediately treating children for gender dysphoria by affirming their desired gender.

In the journal Child and Adolescent Mental Health, Dr. Zucker states, “In my view, there are reasons to be skeptical about the merit in recommending an early gender social transition as a first-line treatment. One should recognize that if one peruses carefully the follow-up studies of young children with gender dysphoria (or traits of gender dysphoria), the majority of such children do not have gender dysphoria when followed up in adolescence or adulthood.

Zucker has been under fire in the past for his opinions on gender research, to no surprise. A documentary is available for view, wherein Zucker is interviewed about the closing of his clinic and surrounding controversy.

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