Pediatricians get guidance on kids’ gender diversity




The Canadian Paediatric Society has issued guidelines to help doctors discuss the complexities of gender identity in children with their parents and caregivers.

The online resource will help pediatricians answer common questions posed by parents, including explanations about the differences between sex, gender identity, gender expression and sexual orientation.

Noting that it is a common to confuse gender related terms, CPS president Dr. Mike Dickinson said, “More and more, parents are asking us when and how gender identity typically develops in children, what is considered typical behaviour, and what they should expect at certain ages.”

Dickinson said families are increasingly coming to pediatricians with questions and concerns about their children’s gender expression and their sexual orientation, but not all of these doctors are well enough informed about the issue to provide answers.

Gender development is often associated with puberty and adolescence, but children begin showing interest in their gender early in life, the CPS says. Although every child is unique and may develop at a different pace, most children have a strong sense of their gender identity by the age of four.

The guidelines outline how gender development evolves, depending on age, and advises parents how to best support their children throughout the process. The resource document also features a list of external resources that may be helpful to parents of transgender and gender-diverse children.

Dickinson added, “The message that we want to send to pediatricians … and to families is that we want the children to feel loved and accepted regardless of their gender identity or their gender expression, and that we want kids to grow up feeling safe and secure, with confidence and self-esteem.”