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Surviving a gender-variant childhood: the views of transgender adults on the needs of gender-variant children and their parents

By Elizabeth Anne Riley, Lindy Clemson, Gomathi Sitharthan, and Milton Diamond, 2013

Adults with gender-variant childhoods have often lived traumatic lives because of the attitudes and limited understanding that people in their environment had of the concept of gender variance. This study explores the childhoods of transgender adults with the aim to understand their gender-related difficulties as children, in order to identify their needs and the needs of their parents at that time. The authors conducted a semi-structured survey with 110 transgender adults in order to explore their retrospective childhood experiences. Responses were analyzed through content and thematic coding. Their needs most commonly identified as children were for educated authority figures; acceptance and support to discuss their gender variance; freedom of identity expression; validation; and recognition. The needs most commonly allocated to their parents were access to information, education to increase other’s awareness, peer support, and access to educated professionals.

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