Term Paper: Childhood Development of Sexual Minorities

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[. . .] One can imagine that this discomfort within their bodies would also lead to a general rejection of some of the ideas of self and the body which ordinary development would be forming about this age. Less directly, members of this minority group may tend to have other aspects of development which are affected by their status. While this does not appear to have been tested to the degree that one would wish, nonetheless one can see evidence of it in anecdotal discussions. It appears that children of this minority are not infrequently either attached in an avoidant manner due to the frequency with which parental rejection is an issue, or they are clinging to the parent who makes them feel comfortable. Social development may also be affected, especially as "Research unrelated to the NICHD study suggests that lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered students are at particular risk of being bullied and harassed at school and in their community.

There are many disadvantages of growing up as someone who will be homosexual or transgendered, and arguably very few advantages. Parents are probably the biggest concern regarding the healthy development of these minorities. Many who do not have a particular hatred for sexual minorities are likely to be overwhelmed by the idea of someone in their own family who expresses these traits. Parents in many cases may become abusive or overcompensate and force the children into hateful and excessive compliance with gender roles. Ceglie's research indicates that 57% of these children have relationship difficulties with parents or guardians, while 52% have difficulties relating to peers which may culminate in harassment and bullying (33%) and high social sensitivity (31%). Isolation and social abuse may worsen other co-morbidities, and it appears that about 42% of gender dysphoric children report being depressed or feeling constant misery. (Ceglie) Anecdotally, it seems as if a majority of gender dysphoric children have at least occasional periods where the do very poorly at school despite high marks for intelligence. Children may simply feel overwhelmed by the experiences they are undergoing, and be unable to work past that. Additionally, as if this were not enough, bullying may contribute to problems already experienced within the minority:

Repeatedly victimized children experience real suffering that can interfere with social and emotional development and academic performance...Children who are bullied demonstrate poor social and emotional adjustment; have greater difficulty making friends; have low self-esteem, higher levels of insecurity, and greater feelings of sadness and loneliness...[and] manifest psychosomatic symptoms such as sleep disturbance, enuresis, and unexplained abdominal discomfort or headaches. (ACMP)

These problems occur for a number of reasons. A large part of it is certainly the majority culture and to some degree the human nature which is inclined to try to force children into gender roles even when they do not fit, generally refuses to take children seriously, and is also inclined to abuse that which it does not fully comprehend. However, it would have to be true that these problems are also caused by the very nature of the minority group. The group is defined at this early stage, after all, by dysphoria, and its transformation from infancy into an adult stage requires both maturing and being able to handle conflict.

As can be seen, children with gender dysphoria, who will as adolescents and adults form what is known as the sexual minority groups, form a particularly needy segment of the minority population. Unlike many other minorities, this one is partly defined by problems with the developmental process. Yet in itself this might not be such a problem if the surrounding society did not heap additional baggage upon the young who are just beginning to express themselves and their place within this minority group.


ACPM. "Report XX of the Council on Scientific Affairs." American College of Preventive Medicine. http://www.acpm.org/pol_compNOTPOLICYbullying.htm

Ceglie, Domenico.

GENDER IDENTITY DISORDER IN YOUNG PEOPLE. Advances in Psychiatric Treatment (2000), vol.6,pp. 458-466, http://www.mermaids.freeuk.com/gidyp.html

Mermaids. "Newspaper Archive http://www.mermaids.freeuk.com/newarch.html

Rogers, Lois. Children of 14 get sex change treatment on NHS. The Sunday Times, 12 Oct 1997. http://www.pfc.org.uk/news/1997/s-times1.htm

Swan, Norman. "Gender Dysphoria" The Health REport with Norman Swan, 2000. http://www.abc.net.au/rn/talks/8.30/helthrpt/stories/s171717.htm [END OF PREVIEW]

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