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Last Updated: 25-Mar-2017 11:26
Everyone has a gender identity. Gender identity is our internal sense of being male or
female. For most people, our basic awareness that we are male or female matches our
physical body. When we’re born, people decide if we’re male or female based on our
genitals. But for children and adults who are transgender, their basic sense of being male
or female – their gender identity – does not match their body. So a transgender person
may have a male body, but feel inside that they are female. Or a transgender person may
have a female body, but feel inside that they are truly male.
Can a Child Be Transgender?
Children and adolescents can be transgender, just like adults. In fact, a small percentage
of all children are transgender. Children understand gender differences from a very early
age. And transgender children strongly identify with the other gender, often from age two
or three. Because we don’t talk about transgender people with children, adolescents or
even adults, children who are transgender lack basic information about who they are, and
struggle with feeling like they were born in the wrong body. And adults typically react as
if there were something wrong with these children, as well.
In truth, there is nothing wrong with these children. But since very few people understand
that it is natural for a small percentage of the population to be transgender, people don’t
know that you can have male genitals and still be female or have female genitals and be
Transgender children who express their “real” gender identity can become extremely
unhappy and depressed when adults try to prevent them being their true selves. Being
transgender is not the cause of their distress. Instead, not being understood and feeling
like there is something wrong with them causes them to suffer. And pressure to change
their core sense of who they are causes emotional suffering, as well.