Background : Even though approximately 1/3 of adults in the 2015 U.S. Transgender Survey (USTS) self-identified as something other than binary transgender, there has been very little research specifically looking at the developmental aspects of nonbinary identities. The extent to which a TGNC person is influenced by a binary transnormative narrative often impacts the way one thinks about one’s gender identity and the various decisions that are made about both social and medical transition. In this study, the relationship between the age that TGNC adults first became aware of their TGNC identity and the decisions they made about a) their identity/identity labels, b) the extent of and age of social transition, and c) the extent of and age of sought medical interventions will be examined.
Methods : Using data collected from the 2015 USTS survey, independent samples t-tests were conducted examining differences between transgender binary and transgender nonbinary respondents across gender identity milestones and gender transition milestones. Follow-up analyses of variance (ANOVAs) were conducted to compare transwomen, transmen, assigned female at birth (AFAB) nonbinary, and assigned male at birth (AMAB) nonbinary respondents across gender identity milestones and gender transition milestones. Gender identity milestones examined included age at which respondents first felt different, age respondents first felt transgender, and age respondents came out as transgender. Gender transition milestones included age respondents began living full-time as their gender identity, age respondents went to court to pursue a legal name change, age respondents first began hormones, age respondents first began puberty blockers, and age of first surgery.
Results : Seven of the eight independent t-tests revealed significant age differences across gender identity and gender transition milestones; age of first beginning puberty blockers was the only non-significant result when comparing binary and nonbinary respondents. All eight ANOVAs for gender identity milestones and gender transition milestones revealed significant results. Post hoc comparisons of significant ANOVA results revealed group differences across most pairwise comparisons. Specifically, all four groups differed with respect to age participants first felt they were transgender, age of coming out, age of going to court, and age of first beginning hormones. In examining patterns of mean differences, nonbinary respondents tended to reach gender identity milestones later than transgender binary respondents. At the same time, nonbinary respondents and transmen tended to pursue gender transition milestones at an earlier age than transwomen.
Conclusions : The present study contains valuable information regarding gender identity and gender transition milestones for transgender binary and nonbinary populations. Specifically, even though little information has been available about the identity and transition patterns transgender populations, it can be argued that a binary transnormative narrative has been assumed for both binary and nonbinary people. These results not only provide empirical information about the gender identity and transition milestones for binary people, but also call into question the extent to which this narrative is accurate for people who identify as nonbinary. The results may be employed in clinical settings for health professionals as a reminder that identity development and transition steps need to be affirmed in a highly individualized manner.