Gender Identity 5 Years After Social Transition

Pediatrics. 2022 Aug 1;150(2):e2021056082. doi: 10.1542/peds.2021-056082.


Background and objectives: Concerns about early childhood social transitions among transgender youth include that these youth may later change their gender identification (ie, retransition), a process that could be distressing. The current study aimed to provide the first estimate of retransitioning and to report the current gender identities of youth an average of 5 years after their initial social transitions.

Methods: The current study examined the rate of retransition and current gender identities of 317 initially transgender youth (208 transgender girls, 109 transgender boys; M = 8.1 years at start of study) participating in a longitudinal study, the Trans Youth Project. Data were reported by youth and their parents through in-person or online visits or via e-mail or phone correspondence.

Results: We found that an average of 5 years after their initial social transition, 7.3% of youth had retransitioned at least once. At the end of this period, most youth identified as binary transgender youth (94%), including 1.3% who retransitioned to another identity before returning to their binary transgender identity. A total of 2.5% of youth identified as cisgender and 3.5% as nonbinary. Later cisgender identities were more common among youth whose initial social transition occurred before age 6 years; their retransitions often occurred before age 10 years.

Conclusions: These results suggest that retransitions are infrequent. More commonly, transgender youth who socially transitioned at early ages continued to identify that way. Nonetheless, understanding retransitions is crucial for clinicians and families to help make retransitions as smooth as possible for youth.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Gender Identity
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Parents
  • Transgender Persons*
  • Transsexualism*