Family Discussions of Early Childhood Social Transitions

Kristina R. Olson, Charlie Blotner, Daniel Alonso, Kayla Lewis, Deja Edwards, Lily Durwood

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


Objective: An increasing number of children are socially transitioning to live as their identified genders rather than their assigned sexes, yet little empirical work has examined the decision-making process surrounding social transitions. We aimed to understand (a) why parents and their gender-nonconforming children do and do not consider social transitions and (b) whether families discuss social transitions both before and after initial social transitions. Method: Studies 1 and 2 involved telephone interviews of parents of socially transitioned transgender children (N= 60) and gender- nonconforming children who were not socially transitioned (N= 60), respectively. Study 3 involved an online survey of 266 parents of socially transitioned transgender children. Results: Parents of socially transitioned transgender children (Study 1) and parents of gender-nonconforming children who are not socially transitioned (Study 2) often reported that their children had led the decision to transition or not. Most parents of gender- nonconforming children who had not transitioned had discussed transitioning (Study 2), and most parents of socially transitioned transgender children reported discussing the option of future retransitions (Study 3). Conclusions: Parents often report that they and their children are discussing social transitions, a process that children are leading. In contrast to possible concerns about discussing transitions, our results suggest that many families openly discuss the possibility of their children transitioning (or retransitioning), yet these discussions do not inevitably lead to an imminent transition.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)229-240
Number of pages12
JournalClinical Practice in Pediatric Psychology
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2019
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Applied Psychology


  • family decision-making
  • gender-nonconforming
  • social transitions
  • transgender


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