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Children Who Cross Dress Are At Highest Risk For Abuse
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Children Who Cross Dress Are at Highest Risk for Abuse

Children who cross dress or do not conform to gender norms as defined by society may cause some adults to feel uncomfortable to the point that it may increase their risk of being abused. In a study published in Pediatrics, one in ten children show some level of non-conforming behaviors that could include dressing in clothing typically reserved for the other gender and participating in activities that are described as "not usual". Researchers warn that these behaviors do not make a child transgendered. Those behaviors raise the risk of abuse and other mental problems such as post traumatic stress disorder once they reach their young adulthood.

Transgender and gender non-conformity are two different things. Gender non-conformity tends to be a behavior that is grown out of by the time the child reaches the teen years. Nearly nine thousand children were asked about their experiences that they could recall before the age of eleven. Some of the questions that the kids were asked were about their favorite toys, games and the roles that they while playing those games. They were also asked about who they idolized in the media and how they felt about individual gender roles. Once they reached adulthood, the surveys were performed again, this time with additional questions about instances of abuse and other mental disorders. Each were screened for symptoms of post traumatic stress disorder as well.

S. Bryn Austin, the author of "Clear Pattern" is also the Associate Professor of Pediatrics at Children's Hospital in Boston and the Harvard School of Public Health. The study, according to Austin showed a clear link to these gender bending behaviors, societal expectations and an increased risk of abuse. Continued gender non-conformity can sometimes lead to gender dysphoria which is more serious. Simply put, the person is no longer connecting their anatomical sex to their gender identity.

In a second study, also published in Pediatrics, over forty percent of teens who do or have had gender identity disorder were also more likely to have a significant psychiatric history, including serious behaviors such as self mutilation and suicide attempts.

Cross-dressing has become a much discussed topic in recent months. Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt's then four year old daughter, Shiloh was photographed several times wearing "boys clothing" and sporting a shorter hair cut. Jolie told interviewers that Shiloh, a fan of Ben 10 was asking to be called "Ben" for the time being. In Colorado, a seven year old boy caused controversy when he asked to and was allowed to join a Girl Scout troop because he gender identified and dressed as a girl. That move, heralded by some, caused others to call for an outright boycott of the Girl Scouts of America and their cookie sales.


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