About the Trans*Kids Project
A longitudinal study of 50 families with transgender and gender-diverse children and youth
The Trans*Kids Project was initiated by a mother of a transgender child who wanted a researcher to conduct a study on families such as hers. This mother and Katherine (Kate) Kuvalanka, Ph.D., a faculty member in the Department of Family Science and Social Work at Miami University of Ohio, were put in touch with one another. After several e-mail exchanges and telephone calls, Dr. Kuvalanka joined with her co-investigators, Judith L. Weiner, Ph.D., and Abbie E. Goldberg, Ph.D. to launch a longitudinal study of families with transgender and gender-diverse children.
An advisory board for the study was created consisting of a parent of a transgender child, a trans-affirmative clinician, an advocate for trans individuals, and a veteran researcher in the field of GLBTQ youth and family. After significant time was spent assessing the gaps in the literature and the needs of families with trans children, the pilot phase was launched in September 2010.
So far, we have conducted a pilot phase and three rounds of data collection for the study. We interviewed 49 parents and primary caregivers of transgender and gender-diverse children and youth (ages six to 12 years old at Time 1) to learn about their experiences and also had them complete follow-up questionnaires to assess their well-being and the well-being of their children. We have presented findings related to several aspects of our participants’ lives, including their experiences interacting with their children’s schools and navigating the health care system. We will be tracking the children’s and caregivers’ well-being over time and identifying factors in their lives that foster, as well as propose challenges to, their emotional and psychological well-being. We are also tracking the kids’ gender identities and expressions over time – and the reactions of people in their lives to their gender presentations – so that we may learn from these youth about the spectrum and fluidity of gender and also identify ways to better support them and their families.
The Trans*Kids Project research team joined forces with Jenifer McGuire, Ph.D. and Asaf Orr, Esq. to conduct a smaller study focusing on parents and other family members who had experienced or who were currently experiencing custody- or visitation-related challenges involving their transgender and gender-diverse children. A pilot study was conducted in 2015 and 2016, and the first round of data collection for the larger study was completed at the end of 2016. This study was also initiated by a mother of transgender child who wrote to us with the following story:
“I am the mother of a 7-year-old transgender child, assigned female at birth but identifies as a boy. . . .I am currently in a custody battle with my child’s father based solely on the fact that I support my child’s gender identity. . . .I would like to . . . connect with researchers who would be interested in working with mothers like me who are fighting for custody of their transgender children.”
To learn more about our study findings pertaining to child custody and visitation, go to our Family Court resource page.