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Aster's avatar

Do you believe non gender-conforming children risk major problems?

Asked by Aster (15490 points ) February 25th, 2012

Children whose activity choices, interests and pretend play don’t conform to expected gender roles face an increased risk of abuse and future trauma, a new study finds.

The increased risk for non-conforming kids vs. conforming kids was similar in both sexes for physical and psychological abuse.
One in 10 kids display gender non-conformity before age 11 and, on average, are more likely to experience physical, psychological and sexual abuse and experience post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) by early adulthood, says the study of nearly 9,000 young adults published online Monday in Pediatrics.
The abuse was perpetrated mostly by parents or other adults in the home, says lead study author Andrea Roberts, a research associate in the department of society, human development and health at the Harvard School of Public Health.
Do you believe this study is flawed? www.usatoday.com http://healthland.time.com/2012/02/20/kids-who-dont-gender-conform-are-at-higher-risk-of-abuse/

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9 Answers

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

From my research (and my PhD work expressly deals with this topic, among others), they are at risk for abuse by those closest to them and by other agents in society. I read the study in question and, of course, while there are parents (my group of friends and myself included) who do not at all care about this kind of ‘deviance’, there are MANY more who do. As I call it, children are unique in that they don’t care about gender but at some point we scare the magic out of them and continue to do so with horrendous results. Thank you for sharing that link.

Kayak8's avatar

I think the acceptance of the child by the parents is essential to any hope of the child developing a decent sense of self-esteem.

Aster's avatar

I “naturally” was attracted to girly things as a child ; no one ever came close to scaring me into or out of those interests. I found toys such as trucks, guns and tractors quite boring and silly. Luckily, my parents never said a word about my enjoying playing soldier or cowboys but they would not buy me an erector set! So I just made gadgets out of Tinkertoys then went back to my dollhouse with the working front door light. A nice balance I suppose.

downtide's avatar

From personal experience of being a non-gender-conforming child, I would say yes, to some variable extent. But it depends a lot on how supportive the child’s parents are. I was bullied all through school but it was as much because of being disabled as being non-gender-conforming.

It may well have been totally different if my gender was the other way round. Nobody cares about girls acting like boys, but boys acting like girls is still taboo.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@downtide I agree with you that that double standard exists…but it’s not like girls can act like boys indefinitely…they’re allowed to do so as long as it’s a phase whose end will be clearly marked by entrance into a heteronormative relationship.

downtide's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir true, but it’s at younger ages that bullying/abuse does the greatest damage so I still think it’s more of a problem for feminine boys & trans-girls. By the time a girl/trans-boy is starting to get that pressure to conform, they’ve already passed through those crucial formative years.

Dutchess_III's avatar

I think that boys who act feminine might be at more risk than girls who are “Tom boys.” And it sucks.

Keep_on_running's avatar

Why does society have to be so damn unaccepting of people? This study annoys me.

Keep_on_running's avatar

The first comment on that link sums it up better than I ever could. Perfectly.

LeighEB

“I think it’s far more likely that the emotional and psychological trauma comes from family members (and society at large) trying to force gender roles upon kids, rather than the kids bringing the hostility upon themselves by not wearing hair ribbons and frills, or not playing football in high school.

“It’s also not surprising that boys suffer worse than girls, because in many ways, maleness is more rigidly defined than femaleness, and male homosexual behaviors are ridiculed more than female homosexual behaviors, regardless of whether the individual is actually gay or not.”

Although kids begin developing gender identity quite young, forcing adult sexual identities on children makes no sense, and I don’t think it terribly healthy in helping them develop as an individual. One small example, what is the benefit of dressing a baby or a very young girl in a two-piece swimsuit? There is none. What is the cost of dressing her in a two-piece swimsuit?”

Sexualizing a pre-adolescent by mimicking a clothing style meant to cover adult breasts, and teaching her body shame when she doesn’t even have the body parts to cover yet. It’s ridiculous, it teaches girls lessons about their bodies that are not healthy, and yet we do it anyway, all based on the insistence that chromosomal gender trumps individuality.”

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