Study finds 2.5% of transgender kids go through detransition

transgender kids, transgender youth
© Juan Moyano

The research found that 2.5% of transgender kids go through detransition, while the majority of young people keep their gender identity after five years

As transgender people remain a highly-discussed demographic, internet discussions and the spread of misinformation can influence the creation of policy.

Transgender rights are a hot topic of debate across the West

Across the West, debates about transgender access to healthcare continue. The UK recently removed transgender people from a proposed ban on conversion therapy, while in the US, Alabama have introduced two anti-LGBTQ laws – one of which criminalises healthcare for minors.

An earlier study found that transgender youth faced stigma when it came to being treated. An anonymous young person said: “They don’t want to treat it [gender dysphoria], so you better just figure it out on your own.”

There are fears that early childhood social transitions may lead to later detransitioning. Detransitioning is a valid experience, in which a transgender individual reverts to identifying as cisgender. Individuals who go through this experience need well-tailored support from healthcare experts, as medicine continues to learn about nuanced experiences of gender identity and sexual orientation.

However, the concept of inevitable detransition is regularly used as a tool to invalidate transgender identities.

Five years later, 94% of kids are still living as transgender

The Trans Youth Project looked at the so-called social transition between the ages of three and 12, with participants transitioning on average at age six and a half. Data was reported by parents and youth, either through in-person or online visits, or via email or phone correspondence.

The study looked at the gender identities of youth who transitioned, five years on.

The data, taken from 317 children across the US and Canada, finds that just 2.5% of transgender kids detransition to being cisgender. A further 3.5% of children retransition from identifying as binary transgender to nonbinary.

The data revealed that most youth, 94%, were living as binary transgender. There was also a small proportion of people, 1.3%, who retransitioned initially to cisgender or nonbinary – then switched back to binary trans identities.

Only 2.5% of kids actually went through detransition

A small group were now living as cisgender, at 2.5% of the participant sample.

They found that the children most likely to live as cisgender were those who experienced an initial social transition before the age of six, with retransition happening before the age of ten.

The authors of the study, looking at their overall results, said: “These results suggest that retransitions are infrequent. More commonly, transgender youth who socially transitioned at early ages continued to identify that way. Nonetheless, understanding retransitions is crucial for clinicians and families to help make them as smooth as possible for youth.”

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