Childhood Gender Identity Development (2006 Translating Identities Conference)
Childhood Gender Identity
Translating Identities Conference
1:30-3:00pm Saturday February 24th
Gender Socialization in Young Kids
Who am I and why does this
school age children
focus for 3 years
Understand ways in
which gender is
tools to utilize in
Ways in Which Children
Positive and Negative reinforcement –
direct and indirect messages from
family, teachers and peers
Role Models – children are more likely
to imitate those of the same assigned
Gender Discussion with a
Four Year Old
“Are you a boy or a girl?”
“That’s a complicated question”
“Do you have a penis”
“So you’re a girl, you have a vulva”
“It’s true, I have a girl body. But know how you feel
like a boy inside?”
“Well, I feel like both. I’m trans.”
“So you feel like a girl and a boy?”
Able to match feminine voice with feminine
face and masculine voice with masculine
Understand their own assigned gender
Prefer toys aimed at assigned gender
Can articulate some stereotypes for male
Large amounts of cross gender play
What is your name?
What is your preferred pronoun?
What is your gender identity?
What else is interesting about you?
Identify the gender binary
Use hair styles and clothes as gender
indicators – androgyny very confusing
Can define genders based on stereotypical
personality traits, occupation, appearance
and household activities
Personally engage in lots of cross gender
play until peer pressure kicks in
Gender rigidity accompanied by
exaggerated gender characteristics
Did you separate your candy the same
way as your neighbor?
What was difficult about separating
the candy into two groups?
Aware that physical sex does not
change – especially due to behaviors
Concern that child was born the
wrong sex emerges
Gender norms enforced within peers
Cross gender play declines
Find Your Friends
How did you feel about dots
different than yours?
How did you decide who could be in
your group and who couldn’t?
Gender normative children adamant
about not playing with gender variant
Gender expression relatively stable
How difficult was it to avoid using
How does this reflect your
dependence on the gender binary?
Period of severe gender rigidity
Teasing of gender variant children
Internal gender identity and sexual
Understand the difference between
sex and gender
How many stereotypes could you think
Was it easy to think of gendered
How did it feel to rip someone else’s
sense of self?
How did it feel to watch yourself
Possible Explanations of
Cross Gender Behavior
Sexual Orientation – same sex
Reclamation of Power from abuse