Psychosocial development in gender nonconforming children
Gender expression refers to the way that children experience and express themselves in a masculine or feminine way, through their interests, friendships and clothing choices (Collaer & Hines, 1995). Those who do not follow the social norms expected for their biological sex are referred to as ‘gender nonconforming’. Recalled experience of childhood gender nonconformity (CGN) has been associated with a number of negative outcomes, including poorer mental health (Alanko et al., 2009; Roberts, Rosario, Corliss, Koenen & Austin, 2012; Roberts, Rosario, Slopen, Calzo & Austin, 2013), poorer relationships with parents (Alanko et al., 2009), and poorer relationships with peers (Roberts et al., 2013).There are currently no prospective studies investigating the role of childhood reported CGN on mental health and wellbeing in adolescence and adulthood. Data from a birth cohort study, the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC), will be used in the proposed research to assess the prospective relationship between CGN as reported in childhood with a number of these outcomes. In addition to the quantitative analysis of the ALSPAC data, qualitative data will be collected to investigate in more depth the associations between CGN and distress. This will not only add further information, but will help to highlight whether there are discrepancies between how the children and their parents feel about the gender nonconformity. These findings, together with the quantitative analysis, will help to develop an understanding of how and when CGN leads to negative outcomes in mental health and relationships. This will have important implications for those who work with children, such as teachers, social workers and healthcare providers.
2 – Life Course, Psychology, & Health