At What Age Should Gender Identity Be Discussed with Kids?

At what age should we talk to children about gender identity

The Doctors discuss the case of a teacher from The Rocklin Academy near Sacramento, who had transgender discussions and read two books on the subject brought to class by a child who was transitioningThe incident caused concern among some parents, with some even stating that their children came home from school fearing their gender could somehow change.

Watch: Gender Nonconformity vs. Transgender  

Each family might have a different set of ideas and values regarding this issue, but clinical psychologist Dr. Judy Ho feels if parents approve, it is best to support exploration of gender at this age if a child is questioning theirs.  Child advocate and attorney Areva Martin explains that each state has their own rules and laws regarding parental consent before this topic is discussed at their child's school. She believes that parents should be notified prior to this topic be discussed by teachers.

So at what age is the right time to discuss gender identity with children?

"As [kids] become more verbal -- at the age of 3 and 4 -- and they are saying, 'I don't feel right. I feel like I want to be a girl.' If they are communicating that to you, as a parent no matter what your value system is, at least hear them out and have that discussion," Dr. Judy explains, noting that behavior like wearing mom's shoes or makeup is not a big deal.

Watch: Transgender First Grader?

The Doctors agree that parental consent is key when addressing this topic.

We reached out to The Rocklin Academy, who responded with, "The Rocklin Academy Family of Schools’ embraces students from all walks of life and we are committed to fostering an environment of compassion. As a school that receives public funds, we are obligated to comply with state law, including all laws on gender identity, gender expression, and students and parents’ right to privacy, which is expressly protected by the California State Constitution. 

In this situation, there was no gender ‘reveal’ celebration or ceremony. The transitioning child had already started using her new name and pronouns and was wearing girls’ clothing in the classroom prior to the books being read. Further, the child’s right to privacy prohibits Rocklin Academy from making any notifications about the presence of a transgender child in the classroom, in the same way we are prohibited from advising parents when a child of a specific ethnicity or religion is in the classroom.”