A new study by the American Academy of Pediatrics says boys and girls who don't conform to gender expectations could be at risk of abuse and PTSD.
The study polled adults about childhood preferences such as toys and games and found that girls who preferred traditional boy activities and boys who liked things like dolls experienced more abuse from parents and others. Dr. Maxine Thome counsels young people who are gay, lesbian, and transgender. She says the internal struggle for people clearly indicates that it is not a choice and that's why so many people struggle with post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, and suicidal ideation.
The study suggests that schools and doctors screen for abuse in such children. Thome says there needs to be much more education around gender identity so that children who are different will be kept safe rather than forces to conform. Thome suggests parents avoid the so-called "cookie cutter" approach to gender identity. The Study found rates of PTSD to be nearly twice as high in adults who as children had not conformed to traditional gender roles than those who had.
Thome says education and meaningful legislation could go a long way in protecting children. She says anti-bullying laws need to be stronger and need to spell out the populations that are at risk for bullying. Illinois toughened up its anti-bullying laws a little more than a year ago.