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Study reveals trans children extremely unlikely to ‘detransition’

Five years after their initial social transition, 94% of the study participants were living as either trans girls or trans boys.

Transgender children are unlikely to “detransition” (or start identifying with their birth sex) five years after their social transition. This is according to a study – “Gender Identity 5 Years After Social Transition” by Kristina R. Olson, PhD; Lily Durwood, MS; Rachel Horton, BS; Natalie M. Gallagher, PhD; Aaron Devor, PhD – that appeared in the journal Pediatrics.

Photo by Karolina Grabowska from

The study actually comes from a larger project called the Trans Youth Project, started in 2013 by Princeton University researchers who tracked 317 kids between ages 3 and 12 who socially transitioned.

Generally speaking, social transitions may include wearing different clothing and using a different name and pronouns. For this study, though, a “complete social transition” was defined as changing one’s pronouns “to the binary gender pronouns that differed from those used at their births.”

The study’s results included:

  • five years after their initial social transition, 94% of the study participants were living as either trans girls or trans boys; and
  • the remaining youth who “retransitioned/detransitioned” no longer identified as binary transgender; of that group, only 2.5% came to identify with their birth sex.

“These results suggest that retransitions are infrequent. More commonly, transgender youth who socially transitioned at early ages continued to identify that way,” the researchers stated.

Nonetheless, they added that “understanding retransitions is crucial for clinicians and families to help make them as smooth as possible for youth.” This is also because “though we can never predict the exact gender trajectory of any child, these data suggest that many youth who identify as transgender early, and are supported through a social transition, will continue to identify as transgender. (But) parents and clinicians should be informed that not all youth will continue on the same trajectory.”


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