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  • Writer's pictureJoanne Jacobs

3% of teens are trans? Not really

Some 2.7 percent of teens identified themselves as transgender or “gender non-conforming” (TGNC) in a study of Minnesota teenagers in grades 9 and 11.  (“Assigned-at-birth” girls outnumbered boys by more than two to one.)

What does that mean? It’s very unclear.

Jazz Jennings, originally “Jared,” is a reality TV star and author of Being Jazz: My Life as a (Transgender) Teen.

PJ Media’s Tyler O’Neill crunched the study’s numbers, looking for feminine boys and masculine girls: He estimates 0.67 percent of the Minnesota teens are transgender. A recent UCLA study estimated that 0.7 percent of teens are transgender, close to the government estimate for adults of 0.6 percent.

Gender non-conforming is a term for “individuals whose gender expression does not follow stereotypical conventions of masculinity and femininity,” explains the study, which was published in Pediatrics. Students could end up in the TGNC group if they were “unsure” about their gender identity.

Quite a few adolescents are unsure about their identity and see themselves as not following stereotypes.

TGNC teens were asked if their classmates would describe them as “very or mostly feminine, somewhat feminine, equally feminine and masculine, somewhat masculine, or very or mostly masculine.”

Among the TGNC group, some of the biological females said they were “very” or “somewhat” feminine, while some of the biological males said they were “very” or “somewhat” masculine, O’Neil writes. Many students identified themselves as “equally feminine and masculine.”

In total, only 339 gender-confused girls (23.6 percent of the female-at-birth TGNCs) identified themselves as “very masculine” or “somewhat masculine.” Only 204 gender-confused boys (30.8 percent of the male-at-birth TGNCs) identified themselves as “very feminine” or “somewhat feminine.”

He suspects gender-nonconformity will be a “phase” for most of them. I’d guess some will grow up to gay (cis) males and gay (cis) females.

The Pediatrics study found TGNC students reported “significantly poorer” physical and mental health than their cisgender classmates, writes O’Neil.

In an interview with Reuters, (researcher Nic) Rider suggested that the “stress and invalidation” of not being accepted by society can lead to chronic health conditions. Could it not also go the other way around? If teenagers are struggling with health and identity issues, might they latch on to the idea that they were born in the wrong body?

Nearly 60 percent of TNGC youth said they had long-term mental health problems.

Adolescents are confused about what’s real and what’s fake in pornography, writes Maggie Jones in New York Times Magazine. An experimental Porn Literacy course tries to teach teens not to use online porn as “a  how-to guide” to sex.

Adolescence is a confusing time.

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