CHICOPEE, Mass. (Mass Appeal) – Children who express interests that are more typical of the opposite sex and sometimes want to look and act like the other sex is described as having gender variant behavior, but should parents be concerned? Clinical Psychologist Dr. Tim Hope, shared more about this topic and what parents need to know.
Gender Variant Behavior
What is it?
Gender variant behavior is what many children do when they engage in behavior that is not traditionally viewed as consistent with their gender.
For example, a three year old boy may say that his favorite color is pink and like to practice walking in his mother’s high heels and pretending to be “mommy”.
Another example is a six year old girl who prefers to play baseball over softball, loves to rough house with her brothers, and wears tee shirts and jeans and resists wearing dresses.
A three year old boy may say that his favorite color is pink and like to practice walking in his mother’s high heels and pretending to be “mommy”.
A six year old girl who prefers to play baseball over softball, loves to rough house with her brothers, and wears tee shirts and jeans and resists wearing dresses.
Some more definitions:
Gender is the identification assigned to us, usually at birth (“boy” or “girl”)
Sex is the genetic underpinnings of our biology (usually “Xy” or “XX”)
Identity is how you see yourself
Sexual orientation is your romantic attraction toward someone else (“gay”, “straight”, “bixexual”, etc.)
What does this mean for a child’s future?
Most children at some time or another express behaviors that are variant, or inconsistent, with their gender. Most grow up without significant distress related to their senses of identity, gender, and sexual orientation. We know that a few children consistently express from very early on that they are not the gender assigned to them by others, that they are the other gender. We know that many adults who have a gay or lesbian or bisexual orientation recall that as children they had a crush on an adult of the same sex. However, many people who had same-sex crushes as children grow up having a heterosexual orientation.
What do we do to support our children?
They best tack is to provide our children with an open, supportive, and accepting relationship where they feel that they can explore any and all aspects of their identity, preferences, and roles. This will help little boys grow into strong, secure men who are comfortable mowing the lawn, making dinner, and repairing a hole in their children’s shirts, etc. This will help little girls grow into strong, secure women who are comfortable repairing the car, barbecuing, and keeping track of the household finances, etc.