How to Determine if a Child is Transgender

Two Parts:Observing Their BehaviorEducation

Please note that gender is not as binary as people assume. There is more than just girly girls and manly boys. Gender is fluid and gender is fun. Children usually have very little or no problem with boyish girls and girly boys. Transgender isn't a child who acts like the other gender; it's a child that feels very uncomfortable with their assigned sex and feels like they are another gender.

Part 1
Observing Their Behavior

Children usually realise at a very young age (2-3 years old) that there is something wrong with their assigned sex.[1] If they feel safe enough, they will then try to express their real gender.

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    Notice whether they make any remarks about their gender. Young children may state their gender as a fact: "Daddy, you know I'm a girl, right?" They may classify themselves as another gender or go to the other side when told "boys line up here."
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    Watch for signs of dissatisfaction with their private parts. They may cry about it, attempt to hide their body parts, et cetera. In some cases, they may express desire to self-mutilate (in which case they should see a doctor immediately so they can be assured that transition can happen in the proper medical manner).
    • If your daughter wants to cut off her penis, tell her that this could kill her, and that a doctor can do it safely when she is eighteen (if she still wants to then).
    • Trans girls may insist on peeing sitting down, while trans boys might want to pee standing up, potentially leading to a mess.[2]
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    Watch their clothing and grooming choices. Cisgender children will naturally experiment a little with gender presentation, depending on their personality and tastes. Transgender children may prefer to dress in ways that are not typically associated with their assigned sex. Here are some ways this may manifest:
    • Only wanting clothes from the pink section or the blue section
    • Dressing up with objects (e.g. making a skirt out of blankets)
    • Wearing, or wanting to wear, their hair differently than is typical of their assigned sex
    • Appearing so masculine/feminine that strangers think they are another gender
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    Watch how they play. Transgender children may pretend to be the a different gender while playing, or play in a way that is gendered differently than their assigned sex.
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    Notice who their playmates are. Transgender children may feel more comfortable around children of their actual gender. A "girl" who plays with only boys may actually be a boy, and vice versa.
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    Consider their mood. Transgender children may appear sad, withdrawn, or closed off from the world. They may be diagnosed with depression. This may quickly reverse once they are given clothes and a name that matches their real gender.[3]
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    Recognize that a transgender child may not exhibit all these signs. Every child is different—they experience gender differently, and their comfort level may be different. Take into account your child's personality and background. When in doubt, start educating.

Part 2

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    Research transgender issues online. Start with LGBT organizations and the written work of transgender people. Find out when transgender people realized their identity, and what led up to the change. Watch videos on the internet about transgender people.
    • Cisgender people may get the facts wrong. Consider work written by cisgender people to be supplementary to your research, rather than making it the body of your research.
    • Some transgender children don't fit the gender binary. They may feel like both male and female, or like they have no gender, or something else.[4][5] If you suspect this is the case, pay special attention to the writings of nonbinary transgender people.
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    Teach your child about transgender children. Plenty of transgender people have compiled resources (e.g. picture books) for transgender children. Read picture books starring transgender kids, and show them videos of a child whose parents thought they were one gender but they actually were another. Explain the difference between a boy who likes girly things and a "boy" who turned out to be a girl. Make sure that your child knows you love them whether they are transgender or not!
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    Do a trial run. Let your child live completely as their stated gender for a weekend, or for the duration of a vacation. Let them use a different name, use their desired pronouns, and dress as they please. Transgender children will typically bloom during this time, seeming all the more vivacious and happy. After the period is over, ask them what they thought of it, and if they would like to live this way all the time.
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    Seek professional help! It is critical that you make sure you find a psychologist or clinic specialised in gender dysphoria in children. Some psychologists believe that transgender children are disordered; this can be very harmful and make them feel as if they are broken. Specialists will help your child in finding out whether it's 'a phase', 'just a tomboy' or actually gender dysphoria.
    • This can reassure children that they will be able to live as their true gender. Puberty blockers are extremely low-risk and temporary, and knowing that these are a possibility can give your child peace of mind.
    • Never place them in gender conversion therapy (which seeks to coerce them into acting like their designated sex). This is what led to Leelah Alcorn's death.
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    Make sure your child knows that you take them seriously! Even if it's just a phase, parental support is crucial.[4] You can be supportive by listening well when they discuss their gender, buying them the clothes and toys they ask for, and letting them lead the way regarding their gender presentation.


  • Be open! Gender stereotypes do not apply to all children. There are plenty of girls who hate dresses and plenty of boys who are into Barbies.
  • Show love! Every child is deserving of love. When you show them you love them unconditionally, they will feel more comfortable being who they really are.
  • Don't label your child as 'gay'. Gender and sexuality are two different things and do not determine each other.
  • Be prepared for society. Even though it is very important that you except your child for who they are, unfortunately for society it isn't that easy. Be prepared to stand strong and back up your child, because they will need it.
  • Trans children may need treatment for mental illnesses such as depression. You can reduce risk of depression and suicide by being loving, kind, and accepting of their true gender.[1][6]
  • Don't straight out ask your child right away. This could offend them if you're not gentle with addressing their situation. Do research on how to ask them correctly. Make them know you are supportive and that they are accepted.
  • Disability may play a part in gender identity. Many autistic people are non-binary.[7] People with mood fluctuation disorders may feel a different gender every few days. Treat their identity as legitimate, instead of discounting it as a symptom or disorder.


  • Recognize that bending rigid gender roles does not make children transgender. It is perfectly normal for boys to play with dolls and for girls to be into Superman. If you do not pressure your children into tight gender roles, children will be able to be who they are. They might be perfectly okay with their assigned sex and just be a boy who likes princesses.
  • This is just a general guide to introduce you to transgender children and children with gender dysphoria. Please be aware that every child is different and will react differently to this.
  • When a child shows clear signs of being transgender, always seek professional help. Do your research and find psychologists that are specialized on the field of gender dysphoria in children. They will help your child in finding their true identity and guide them towards being who they truly are.

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Categories: Parenting | Friends and Family of LGBT