Kids today are exploring gender identity more than ever. They are using new words to describe gender identity, such as gender fluid and nonbinary. Angela Kade Goepferd, MD, chief education officer and medical director of the Gender Health program at Children’s Minnesota, talked about the evolution of gender at the recent TEDxMinneapolis virtual event “Adaptation.”
“It often takes grown-ups a lot longer to unlearn and realize that more exists among human beings than can be answered with a simple question: ‘Are you a boy or a girl? Are you a man or a woman? Are you a mommy or a daddy?’” said Dr. Goepferd.
Dr. Goepferd explained kids begin to understand gender differences and gender roles from an early age. She said kids begin to learn how they should act based on the traditional gender roles that they’ve been taught—boy and girl. However, some of these kids begin to realize the way they see themselves doesn’t line up with what society expects, and they can be punished for it. Eighty percent of transgender and gender diverse kids experience harassment in schools. In some studies, these kids are eight to nine times more likely to take their own life.
“We also know the world is changing,” said Dr. Goepferd. In a 2016 survey, nearly three percent of 9th and 11th grade students in Minnesota identified as transgender or gender nonconforming. That is nearly three times what was previously found in studies of adults. Dr. Goepferd does not believe the evolution of gender identity is a trend.
“It is my foundation belief that we all know who we are from a very young age, including the truest expression of our gender identity. And, we actually spend most of our lives searching for the words, and the tools, and the safety, and the agency to share ourselves with the world,” said Dr. Goepferd.
Watch Dr. Goepferd’s full TEDx talk on YouTube: