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The existence of transgender youth is globally acknowledged in medical literature and diagnostic tools. This was established several decades ago.
Most U.S. leading professional medical associations acknowledge the existence of transgender youth and support continued access to gender-affirming care.
Gender identity develops in childhood, and many trans people report realizing their identities in childhood or adolescence.
There is rabid political debate about whether transgender youth should have access to gender-affirming care. But now some social media users are just denying transgender youth’s existence altogether.
"There is no such thing as a trans kid," Gay Against Groomers said in a July 20 text-only Instagram post. The activist group runs X (formerly Twitter) and Instagram accounts with more than 300,000 followers each that comment against LGBTQ+ topics, including transgender policies and drag shows. The Anti-Defamation League identified the group as an online amplifier of anti-LGBTQ+ extremism.
The post’s caption goes on to say "the trans child is a pharmaceutically-constructed demographic of children who were told that they are living in the ‘wrong body.’"
Medical experts disagree. Being transgender does not have to involve medical treatment, and for kids who haven’t reached puberty, no medical interventions are recommended.
Although some experts debate the exact number of transgender Americans, and how to formulate the best standards of care, the existence of trans children is not up for debate.
Gays Against Groomers did not respond to a request for comment.
These posts were flagged as part of Meta’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Meta, which owns Facebook and Instagram.)
(Screenshot of Instagram Post)
If people are transgender, that means their gender identity, or internal sense of what gender they are, is different from the sex they were assigned at birth.
The World Health Organization’s diagnostic manual, or "ICD," has included some description of people whose sense of gender did not match their assigned sex since 1975. It previously fell under the now dated term "transexualism."
The organization added a separate diagnosis for children in 1990.
The most recent edition of the WHO’s diagnostic manual, released in 2019, uses the term "gender incongruence" and includes two sets of diagnostic guidance, one for gender incongruence in childhood and another for adults and adolescents.
The fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, published in 2013 by the American Psychiatric Association, also includes the diagnosis of gender dysphoria, which includes the distress that can result from having your gender identity not match your sex assigned at birth. A related diagnosis, including a distinct diagnosis for children, first appeared in the manual’s third edition in 1980.
The following professional medical associations acknowledge the existence of transgender youth: American Medical Association, American Academy of Pediatrics, Endocrine Society, Pediatric Endocrine Society, American Psychological Association, American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, American Psychiatric Association, and the World Professional Association for Transgender Health.
All of those organizations also support continued access to gender-affirming care for youth. Before puberty, gender-affirming care can include things such as using the name and pronouns that align with a child’s gender identity. After puberty begins, it can include evidence-based medical treatments such as puberty blockers or hormone therapies. Gender-affirming surgical procedures are not commonly recommended or provided to minors.
An American Academy of Pediatrics-run website for parents explains that gender identity development in children happens at a young age. By age 2, children typically understand the physical differences between boys and girls; by age 4, "most children have a stable sense of their gender identity."
"It is common for children to declare their gender identity by three years of age," said Dr. Alex Keuroghlian, director of the Massachusetts General Hospital Psychiatry Gender Identity Program. "Trans children will often express their gender identity even within unsupportive family environments and communities," and when affirmation from parents is unlikely.
Transgender youth make up only a small portion of the population. Data from the Williams Institute at the UCLA School of Law estimates that 300,000 Americans ages 13 to 17 identify as transgender, around 1.4%.
But they do exist, and they aren’t new, experts said. "There is naturally occurring gender diversity among human beings that has always existed throughout history and across cultures," said Keuroghlian.
Gays Against Groomers said, "There is no such thing as a trans kid."
The claim stretches beyond opinion or an opposition to gender-affirming care to deny the existence of hundreds of thousands of Americans. Gender incongruence in children and adolescents is a well-documented experience that has been widely accepted by the medical community.
Social and medical interventions that are provided are given in response to a person’s feelings of gender incongruence, which can emerge within a child’s earliest years. Treatments for young transgender people do not always result in prescription drugs or surgeries, as the caption implied.
There is such a thing as a trans kid.
We rate this claim Pants on Fire!
Email Interview with Dr. Michelle Forcier a Folx Clinician and professor of pediatrics at the Alpert School of Medicine at Brown University, July 24, 2023
Email Interview with Dr. Jack Drescher, a distinguished life fellow of the American Psychiatric Association, July 24, 2023
Email Interview with Dr. Alex Keuroghlian, director of the Massachusetts General Hospital Psychiatry Gender Identity Program, July 24, 2023
U.S. News & World Report, "What Is Gender-Affirming Care, and Which States Have Restricted it in 2023?," July 19, 2023
Gays Against Groomers Twitter Page, accessed July 24, 2023
Gays Against Groomers Instagram Page, accessed July 24, 2023
PolitiFact, "‘Gender dysphoria’: What it is, what it isn’t and how history has changed its view," May 22, 2023
World Health Organization, "International Classification of Diseases (ICD)," accessed July 24, 2023
World Health Organization, "Gender incongruence and transgender health in the ICD," accessed July 24, 2023
American Medical Association, "AMA reinforces opposition to restrictions on transgender medical care," June 15, 2021
American Academy of Pediatrics, "Ensuring Comprehensive Care and Support for Transgender and Gender-Diverse Children and Adolescents," October 2018
Endocrine Society, "Transgender and Gender Diverse Children and Adolescents," January 24, 2022
American Psychological Association, "Answers to your questions about transgender people, gender identity, and gender expression," June 6, 2023
American Psychiatric Association, "What is Gender Dysphoria?," August 2022
American Medical Association, "AMA to states: Stop interfering in health care of transgender children," April 26. 2021
American Academy of Pediatrics, "AAP continues to support care of transgender youths as more states push restrictions," January 6, 2022
Endocrine Society, "The Endocrine Society Calls on Congress to Reject Efforts to Ban Access to Gender-Affirming Care," July 18, 2023
American Psychological Association, "Advocating for transgender and nonbinary youths," July 1, 2022
American Psychiatric Association, "Position Statement on Treatment of Transgender (Trans) and Gender Diverse Youth," July 2020
Healthy Children, "Gender Identity Development in Children," May 11, 2022
Mayo Clinic, "Children and gender identity: Supporting your child," October 1, 2022
Pediatrics, "Gender Identity 5 Years After Social Transition," July 13, 2022
Journal of Adolescent Health, "Age of Realization and Disclosure of Gender Identity Among Transgender Adults," March 17, 2023
PolitiFact, "How many trans people are there in the U.S., and why do we overestimate it?" July 13, 2023
The Williams Institute, "How Many Adults and Youth Identify as Transgender in the United States?" June 2022
ResearchGate, "Gender Identity Diagnoses: History and Controversies" May 2013
International Review of Psychiatry, "Queer diagnoses revisited: The past and future of homosexuality and gender diagnoses in DSM and ICD," August 4, 2015
PolitiFact, "Is all gender-affirming care for children ‘experimental’? Experts say no," January 17, 2023
Anti-Defamation League, "Online Amplifiers of Anti-LGBTQ+ Extremism," January 24, 2023
American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, "Health Care for Transgender and Gender Diverse Individuals," March 2021
Pediatric Endocrine Society, "Transgender Care," June 17, 2020
Pediatric Endocrine Society, "Response to Governor Greg Abbott’s Directive Regarding Management of Transgender Children and Adolescents," February 28, 2022
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