Washington (AFP)

Transgender boys and girls are no less likely to be boys or girls than non-transgender children, according to a large study of trans children in the United States that found how they conform to gender norms.

In other words, a 10-year-old trans boy, for example, who had been treated for nine years as a girl because of his birth-sex, behaves like any other boy, say the authors of the 'study, conducted by researchers from Washington State University and published Monday in the scientific journal PNAS.

The researchers recruited 317 trans children ages 3 to 12, compared to their siblings and 316 cisgender children, who identify themselves by their birth-sex.

The goal was to see if the children who made the transition differed from children who had grown up all their life as a boy or a girl, by observing which toys they preferred, which were their main playmates, and if their clothes were rather male or female.

The researchers observed great consistency in the children.

"There are always people who say that these children are pretending or that it is a phase," says the first author of the study, postdoctoral researcher Selin Gülgöz.

In fact, "not only do transgender children have a gender identity and gender preferences that are consistent with their current gender identity, but in addition, they express them to the same degree as cisgender children," says Selin Gülgöz.

A slight difference was noted in the choice of clothing: trans children were more likely to choose clothes corresponding to male / female stereotypes than non-trans children.

The results show that the time elapsed since the transition from one genre to another does not count. Children quickly adopt male or female social codes.

"Once they identify as a girl or a boy (regardless of their gender), they will see how the genres around them fill these roles, and try to look like them," the researchers write.

The University of Washington's TransYouth Project study aims to track trans children for years until they reach the age of young adults. Further studies will be drawn from the project in the coming years.

A limitation to the project is that the participating families are overwhelmingly from privileged and progressive backgrounds.

© 2019 AFP