Sexual identity, the gender assigned at birth, can be different than a person’s gender identity, the sense of identification a person feels inside. Typically, a person’s gender identity can start to be expressed as early as 3 years old, although it can change over the years. Sometimes, a child's sexual identity and gender identity are different.

According to the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, research suggests that accepting a child's affirmed gender identity and expression can decrease the risk of future psychiatric problems such as depression, anxiety, and suicidal behavior.

The AACAP suggests doing the following to support a child’s gender identity:

  • · Use name and gender pronouns child prefers
  • · Allow child to play with toys, dress in clothes he/she chooses
  • · Stand up for child if people act disrespectful
  • · Prepare child for teasing, bullying -- identify trusted adults
  • · Learn about school policies and laws, advocate for change
  • · Help make decisions about telling others
  • · Connect with other parents
  • · Seek out guidance early
To learn more about transgender and gender diverse youth, visit the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.

Today’s Takeaway: Gender Identity and Sexual Identity