Parental Perceptions of Emotional and Behavioral Difficulties Among Prepubertal Gender-Nonconforming Children

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Abstract

The purpose of this study was to better understand parents’ perceptions of how, if at all, their transgender and gender-nonconforming (TGNC) children exhibited common childhood emotional and behavioral concerns in relation to gender nonconformity/gender dysphoria (GD), and to identify ways in which evidence-based interventions (EBI) targeting emotional and behavioral concerns could be adapted to best serve TGNC children. Qualitative data were gathered from a targeted focus group activity with 40 parents (25 mothers, 15 fathers) of 24 TGNC children ages 4–11 years old. Parents of TGNC children described how 4 prespecified domains of emotional and behavioral problems (i.e., oppositional behavior, anger, sadness, and fears/worries) are characterized in the context of gender-nonconformity/GD. Parents also identified precipitants of these problems. Overall study findings indicate there is a role for EBI adaptation as parents identified many different examples of emotional and behavioral challenges emerging in unique and nuanced ways in TGNC children.

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