an illustration blending the restroom symbols for male and female

With the Pentagon’s decision last week to lift its ban on openly transgender soldiers, the spotlight is once again on the rights of transgender people of all ages. Diane Ehrensaft, co-founder of UCSF’s Child and Adolescent Gender Center, coined the term “gender creative child” to describe children whose gender identity is not reflected in the male or female box that was checked on their birth certificates. We’ll talk with Ehrensaft about the experience of gender nonconformity and discuss her new book, “The Gender Creative Child: Pathways for Nurturing and Supporting Children Who Live Outside Gender Boxes.”


UCSF’s Diane Ehrensaft on ‘The Gender Creative Child’ 6 July,2016Mina Kim

Diane Ehrensaft, developmental and clinical psychologist, UCSF; author, "The Gender Creative Child: Pathways for Nurturing and Supporting Children who Live Outside Gender Boxes"

  • geraldfnord

    I’m concerned that some of the new ways of assigning children to genders are actually recapitulations and reënforcement of traditional gender rôles. As someone who’s always felt very definitely ‘male’, but got an awful lot of grief for disliking aggressiveness, sports, cars, and beating-up gays, the acmes of masculinity where I grew-up (to whatever extent I did), I always found a sort of safe harbour in my claim on masculinity based on my phenotype.

  • Kate

    No child should be forced into a gender box. It seems like we are stifling so many children with these strict gender roles and creating new categories isn’t the solution. Let kids be kids. No boxes. Whatever happened to “Free to Be You and Me”?

  • Ben Rawner

    How does your guest differentiate between child behavior that is based on regular growing pains versus actual gender identity issues? For instance a young boy stealing his older sisters dresses might be more of an attempted emulation than actual gender identity issues.

  • Noelle

    What would your guest say to legislators who feel the need to pass so-called bathroom bills?

  • Joanna Talbot

    Question for Diane: My niece is 7 and dresses as a boy. Her hair is short (it took 3 haircuts to finally get to boy-short), she now wears exclusively boy’s clothes and likes it when people think she is a boy – which everyone does who doesn’t know her. However she still identifies as a girl. Any thoughts? Her parents are supporting her and hope it is a phase. Her mom thinks it’s because she identifies with her dad so much she wants to look just like him. Is this possible? My niece is secure and happy and doesn’t seem to be worried about it.

    • Another Mike

      Boys have freedom of action while girls are more restricted.

    • Kate

      Girls can have short hair. Girls can wear shorts and tshirts instead of dresses. Why does it matter if its a phase? Feminine dress should not be compulsory for anyone.

  • Another Mike

    I’m glad the guest made it clear that gender identity was not just a matter of behavior, but includes actual discomfort with having the genitals one was born with.

  • geraldfnord

    How can we reconcile this aoproach with multicultural concerns? Though there are traditional cultures that include gender fluidity or non-binarity [a word?], there are many that most decidedly do not—must Ms (Dr?) Ehrensaft decline to treat some children because her preferred goals were unacceptable to the family?

    (Remember, in essentially all traditional cultures, we are at least as much the creatures of our families as self-actualising individuals…. Not to belabour the point, but as someone from an okd-fashioned, immigrant family, the notion that all parents would accept that their dreams should play second fiddle to their children’s is laughable, because ‘I am the [mo|fa]ther, what does the child know?’ trumps everything. )

  • Sara Kassabian

    Hi Diane, I’m really enjoying this important discussion on Forum! A few years ago, the seven-year-old child I nannied for socially transitioned from male to female — since it happened during the summer, we threw a kid-friendly Pride Party and I attended the Gender Spectrum Conference with her family. What are some tangible ways other adults in the child’s life can support the evolution of a child’s gender identity and expression? Thank you and I’ll be emailing you soon to learn more about your work at UCSF!

  • Another Mike

    Good point regarding hormone treatment and growth plate closure.

  • InabaML

    Thank you for your pioneering work. Are there scales or measures that can be used by clinicians to assess persistence, insistence and consistence in gender non-conforming children at different developmental stages?

  • SfoErin

    Conformity in the culture seems to be the sticking point. A cisgender woman with short hair was recently harassed in a women’s restroom by someone who suspected she was male. It seems like we need to make room for more feminine males and masculine females, and to value their contributions as much as the typical alpha males and June Cleavers. Gender should be more akin to language, a choice for relating to the world and not something yoked to one’s anatomical sex.

    • geraldfnord

      We fought in the Seventies to try to disentangle gender from traditional rôles; now I see some people holding that those röles to be definitive.


Mina Kim

Mina Kim is KQED News’ evening anchor and the Friday host of Forum. She reports on a wide range of issues affecting the Bay Area and interviews newsmakers, local leaders and innovators.

Mina started her career in public radio at KQED as an intern with Pacific Time. When the station began expanding its local news coverage in 2010, she became a general assignment reporter, then health reporter for The California Report. Mina’s award-winning stories have included on-the-scene reporting of the 2014 Napa earthquake and a series on gun violence in Oakland.

Her work has been recognized by the Radio Television Digital News Association, the Society of Professional Journalists and the Asian American Journalists Association.

Mina grew up in St. John’s, Newfoundland and Oak Park, CA. She lives in Napa.

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