Study: 27 Percent of California Youth Are Gender ‘Nonconforming’

A new study released at UCLA finds 27 percent of California’s young people between the ages of 12 and 17 self-report that others view them as gender ‘nonconforming” at school.

The study – which has a margin of error of about six percent – was based on the inclusion of two questions in the California Health Interview Survey that were asked of 1,594 California young people between the ages of 12 and 17.

First, the young people were asked, “Are you male or female?” and, subsequent to that question, they were asked:

A person’s appearance, style, dress, or the way they walk or talk may affect how people describe them. How do you think other people at school would describe you?

  • Very feminine
  • Mostly feminine
  • Equally feminine & masculine
  • Mostly masculine
  • Very masculine

The authors categorized male participants who said others describe them as “very feminine” or “mostly feminine,” and female respondents who said others describe them as “very masculine” or “mostly masculine” as “highly gender nonconforming,” while those youth who responded “equally feminine and masculine” were categorized as “androgynous.”

Those young people categorized as “highly gender nonconforming” numbered 59, while 331 were placed in the “androgynous” category. Of the youth participants in the study, 1,204 were in the “gender conforming” category, i.e., those who are comfortable with their biological sex.

The study, authored by UCLA’s Williams Institute – a sexual orientation and gender identity think tank – and the school’s Center for Health Policy Research, also evaluated mental health differences between so-called “gender conforming” and “gender nonconforming” youth.

No significant differences were found in the rates of suicidal ideation (thinking) and suicide attempts between the two groups, an outcome that is in stark contrast with many studies cited by proponents of immediate affirmation of young people who claim to be a gender that is inconsistent with their biological sex. However, “gender nonconforming” young people were found to be more than twice as likely to have psychological problems than those comfortable with their biological sex.

“The data show that more than one in four California youth express their gender in ways that go against the dominant stereotypes,” said the study’s lead author Bianca D.M. Wilson of the Williams Institute. “However, the heightened psychological distress we see among gender nonconforming youth indicates that we must continue to educate parents, schools and communities on the mental health needs of these young people and reduce known risk factors, such as bullying and bias.”

California was the first state to adopt the LGBT rights agenda formally into its public schools, as part of a new history and social studies curriculum that will reach children as young as the second grade.

 


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