Predicting Early-Childhood Gender Transitions

James R. Rae, Selin Gülgöz, Lily Durwood, Madeleine DeMeules, Riley Lowe, Gabrielle Lindquist, Kristina R. Olson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

49 Scopus citations


Increasing numbers of gender-nonconforming children are socially transitioning—changing pronouns to live as their identified genders. We studied a cohort of gender-nonconforming children (n = 85) and contacted them again approximately 2 years later. When recontacted, 36 of the children had socially transitioned. We found that stronger cross-sex identification and preferences expressed by gender-nonconforming children at initial testing predicted whether they later socially transitioned. We then compared the gender-nonconforming children with groups of transitioned transgender children (n = 84) and gender-conforming controls (n = 85). Children from our longitudinal cohort who would later transition were highly similar to transgender children (children who had already socially transitioned) and to control children of the gender to which they would eventually transition. Gender-nonconforming children who would not go on to transition were different from these groups. These results suggest that (a) social transitions may be predictable from gender identification and preferences and (b) gender identification and preferences may not meaningfully differ before and after social transitions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)669-681
Number of pages13
JournalPsychological Science
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 1 2019
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Psychology


  • gender development
  • gender nonconformity
  • social transitions
  • transgender


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