Cisgenderism in psychology: Pathologizing and misgendering children from 1999 to 2008

Ansara, Y. G. and Hegarty, P. J. (2012). Cisgenderism in psychology: Pathologizing and misgendering children from 1999 to 2008. Psychology and Sexuality, 3(2) 137 - 160.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/19419899.2011.576696

Abstract

We assessed whether recent psychological literature on children reflects or contrasts with the zeitgeist of American Psychological Association's recent non-discrimination statement on ‘transgender’ and ‘gender variant’ individuals. Article records (N = 94) on childhood ‘gender identity’ and ‘expression’ published between 1999 and 2008 inclusive were evaluated for two kinds of cisgenderism, the ideology that invalidates or pathologises self-designated genders that contrast with external designations. Misgendering language contradicts children's own gender assignations and was less frequent than pathologising language which constructs children's own gender assignations and expression as disordered. Articles on children's gender identity/expression are increasingly impactful within psychology. Cisgenderism is neither increasing nor decreasing overall. Mental health professionals are more cisgenderist than other authors. Articles by members of an ‘invisible college’ structured around the most prolific author in this area are more cisgenderist and impactful than other articles. We suggest how authors and editors can implement American Psychological Association policy and change scientific discourse about children's genders.

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