While it is natural for most of us to have and identify with a specific gender, there are some children for whom it is not so obvious. Fortunately, problems of this type have been discussed more and more often in recent years, thanks to which the topic is no longer a taboo, and parents can react in time to problems that their child is struggling with. Find out why your child may be struggling to identify gender identity, and find out how to help them with this crucial moment of growing up.
Shaping the sex of a child
As a child grows up and matures, he learns about how society works and how people differ from one another. Already at the age of 9-13 months, he is able to categorize people with whom he spends time into two different genders, around the age of 3 he achieves gender identity, and less than a year later acquires gender continuity. Soon after that, he learns that gender is indispensable and does not change regardless of various factors.
Gender identity and contacts with others
Despite the fact that gender formation is an integral stage of development, the environment in which a child lives may be of key importance for the correctness of this process. It is at home, kindergarten, school or at the playground that he interacts with others and observes their behavior. Adults usually indicate to the child from the very birth what gender they belong to, addressing them appropriately, dressing them in a specific way, etc. with him to a child sexologist.
Problems with forming femininity and masculinity
Psychology and biological sex do not always go hand in hand. Children who have trouble forming femininity or masculinity may feel incomprehensible, which in turn can affect their development. This is why it’s so important that a parent doesn’t sweep the problem under the rug and pretend it’s not there, but take steps that can help the developing child. The problem should also not be underestimated when dealing with teenagers.
The causes and the most common types of disorders
Problems with the formation of masculinity and femininity can result from both biological and psychological factors. Pharmacological treatment may be necessary if the cause is hormonal imbalance or impairment of the central nervous system. Sometimes the reasons for this state of affairs also lie in the psyche – large complexes or growing up in a gender-neutral environment can affect the sense of gender belonging.
Sexual dysphoria in children
A separate disease entity is the so-called sexual dysphoria in children. Under this concept there is a permanent and intense discomfort related to one’s own assigned gender. The disorder manifests itself before puberty and causes suffering or deterioration of the patient’s functioning. The most frequently observed symptoms of gender dysphoria in children include:
- frequent assumption of roles typical of the opposite sex, e.g. while playing;
- aversion to one’s own sexual anatomy;
- rejection of toys, games and activities typical of biological sex;
- the desire to have the physical characteristics of the opposite sex;
- wanting to change sex or believing that you are a different sex;
- preferring toys, games or activities associated with the opposite sex;
- propensity to wear clothes for the opposite sex;
- playing with children of the other sex.
Sexual dysphoria occurs in a child if at least six of these symptoms persist for more than six months.
Forming femininity and masculinity with help from sexologist
If you see that your child has problems developing appropriate gender identification behaviors, don’t wait for them to deal with the problem themselves. An early-stage response can greatly assist him in shaping either femininity or masculinity. The longer a person with a problem remains without adequate support, the more difficult it may be for him to function in society. Talking about sexuality with your offspring is not easy, and gender identity problems are often painful for both the child and the parent who see them as their fault. For this reason, it is worth going for a professional consultation to a child sexologist.
Remember that untreated disorders can lead to other, equally serious problems such as withdrawal or even depression!