Groundbreaking Study: Cis and Trans Children Know their Gender at Birth

The first large-scale scientific study comparing socially transitioned children and cisgender children ages 3 to 12 finds that the two groups are similarly aware of their gender and behave accordingly.

Trans and cis children
Photo by Daria Shevtsova from Pexels

The first large-scale scientific study comparing socially transitioned children and cisgender children ages 3 to 12 finds that the two groups are aware of their gender at the same time and behave accordingly.

Researchers also found that transgender children continue their transition regardless of acceptance or acknowledgment by parents.

Politicization laid to rest.

American Republicans’ belief that trans children are helpless pawns to a leftist agenda has been laid to rest. Transgender children, like their cisgender contemporaries, in this study knew their gender around the same time.

The study shows that transgender children pick toys, clothing, and friendships associated with their gender the same way the kids who identify as gender matching their sex at birth. Researchers examined the preferences and behaviors of more than 800 children in the U.S.

The transgender children, ages 3 to 12, did not undergo medical procedures before and during the study. Researchers said they were only socially transitioned, changing their pronouns, first names, and how they dress and play, futurity reported Tuesday.

The team observed all participants through interviews with the children and their parents. They looked into their preferences and sense of their own gender identity.

Related breaking: American Medical Association backs nationwide LGBT conversion therapy ban. The leading medical group throws its weight behind ending the discredited practice of trying to change one’s sexual orientation or gender identity.

The study of 812 children “Similarity in transgender and cisgender children’s gender development” as published by Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences,


Questions of nature and nurture have dominated efforts to understand human gender development. Today’s transgender children provide a unique window into gender development: They have been treated as 2 different genders (1 gender before transition and 1 gender after their social transition) and are the first sizable group of children living as a gender that differs from their assigned sex. As such, their experiences enable insight into gender development that is otherwise not possible. The current study provides the largest report to date of the experiences of these early-transitioning children’s gender development.


Gender is one of the central categories organizing children’s social world. Clear patterns of gender development have been well-documented among cisgender children (i.e., children who identify as a gender that is typically associated with their sex assigned at birth). We present a comprehensive study of gender development (e.g., gender identity and gender expression) in a cohort of 3- to 12-y-old transgender children (n = 317) who, in early childhood, are identifying and living as a gender different from their assigned sex. Four primary findings emerged. First, transgender children strongly identify as members of their current gender group and show gender-typed preferences and behaviors that are strongly associated with their current gender, not the gender typically associated with their sex assigned at birth. Second, transgender children’s gender identity (i.e., the gender they feel they are) and gender-typed preferences generally did not differ from 2 comparison groups: cisgender siblings (n = 189) and cisgender controls (n = 316). Third, transgender and cisgender children’s patterns of gender development showed coherence across measures. Finally, we observed minimal or no differences in gender identity or preferences as a function of how long transgender children had lived as their current gender. Our findings suggest that early sex assignment and parental rearing based on that sex assignment do not always define how a child identifies or expresses gender later.

Read the report in its entirety:

PDF: Similarity in transgender and cisgender children’s gender development

Online: Similarity in transgender and cisgender children’s gender development

The National Academy of Sciences (NAS) is a United States nonprofit, non-governmental organization (NGO), created in 1863 by a congressional charter approved by President Abraham Lincoln. NAS is part of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, along with the National Academy of Engineering and the National Academy of Medicine.

SOURCENational Academy of Sciences / Social Sciences Psychological and Cognitive Sciences
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Kelli, Busey is managing editor at Planet Transgender


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