Dr. Kristina Olson | Princeton University
Childhood Gender Diversity
Gender is the earliest-emerging, influential, and prioritized social category for most young children. By age 3, children tend to identify their gender and use that categorization to inform a host of social judgments and decisions. Existing theories emphasize the impact of socialization, biological factors, and children’s own motivated learning in explaining these patterns of behavior and cognition. In this talk, I will explore gender development – as well as test these theories – using data from two ongoing longitudinal studies of transgender and gender diverse children. I will describe the gender identities, gender-typed preferences, beliefs, and the continuity and change of these constructs over time in transgender, gender nonconforming, and cisgender youth. Our findings illustrate the failure of existing theories to account for the broader spectrum of childhood gender diversity that is being increasingly recognized outside of the halls of the academy.