Canadian Pediatric Society: Gender Identity

Photo Credit: Unsplash User  Tina Floersch

Photo Credit: Unsplash User Tina Floersch

The Gender Identity information page on the CPS Caring for Kids site provides accessible-language definitions for non-specialists of terminology for “gender identity”. “gender expression:, “sexual orientation”, “transgender”, and “gender “dysphoria”. 

The information page outlines how gender identity develops at different ages, for example:

  • 2  to 3 years
    • At around 2 years old, children are aware of physical differences between boys and girls.
    • Most children can identify themselves as a “boy” or “girl”, although this may or may not match the sex they were assigned with.
    • Some children’s gender identity remains stable over their life, while others may alternate between identifying themselves as “boy” or “girl”, or even assume other gender identities at different times (sometimes even in the same day).  This is normal and healthy.
  • 4 to 5 years
    • While many children at this age have a stable gender identity, gender identity may change later in life.
    • Children become more aware of gender expectations or stereotypes as they grow older.  For example, they may think that certain toys are only for girls or boys.
    • Some children may express their gender very strongly.  For example, a child might go through a stage of insisting on wearing a dress every day, or refusing to wear a dress even on special occasions.

The page addresses the following questions:

  • How do most children express their gender identity?
  • My little boy likes to wear dresses.  Should I let him?
  • What does gender-creative mean?
  • I think my child may transgender.  What should I do next?

The page provides links to additional resources and books and addresses parent’s questions about how they can support their transgender or gender-creative child, along with recommendations, noting that “Strong parent support is key!”

Nelli Agbulos