Research Suggests that Substantial Numbers of Transgender People are Parents and Report Positive Parenting Experiences
For Immediate Distribution
October 28, 2014
Transgender parents report experiencing discrimination, but their children are faring well
LOS ANGELES — A new Williams Institute report shows that substantial numbers of transgender people are parents, though at rates that appear lower than the U.S. general population. Most studies reviewed in this report find that between one quarter and one half of transgender study participants are parents. Parenting percentages for adult males and adult females in the general population are at 65 and 74 percent, respectively. The vast majority of transgender parents report that their relationships with their children are good or positive, including after “coming out” as transgender or transitioning. The study is co-authored by Rebecca L. Stotzer, Associate Professor of Social Work at the University of Hawai’i; Jody L. Herman, Williams Institute Manager of Transgender Research and Peter J. Cooper Public Policy Fellow; and Amira Hasenbush, Jim Kepner Law and Policy Fellow.
“While transgender parents and their children may face unique challenges and discrimination, research shows that transgender parent-child relationships and child development appear to be similar to that of any other family,” said Stotzer.
The study reviewed 51 existing reports on the prevalence and characteristics of transgender people who are parents, the quality of relationships between transgender parents and their children, outcomes for children with a transgender parent, and the reported needs of transgender parents. Notably, the report finds there is no evidence that children of transgender parents are different from other children in regard to gender identity or sexual orientation development and no evidence of any differences in other developmental milestones.
Other key findings include:
• Two studies have found that people who transition or “come out” as transgender later in life tend to have higher parenting rates than those people who identify as transgender and/or transition at younger ages. This higher rate of parenting could be due to individuals becoming biological parents before they identified as transgender or transitioned.
• Of the six studies that asked about both “having children” and “living with children,” all found that there were more transgender respondents who reported having children than living with children. It may be that many of the respondents represented in these studies had adult children and are no longer living with them. However, there is some evidence that formal and informal attempts to limit the contact of transgender parents with their children may also partially explain this discrepancy.
• Transgender parents have reported having social service needs related to child care, networking with other parents, and support for family planning.
• Transgender parents have reported discrimination – either formally through the courts or informally by the child(ren)’s other parent – in child custody and visitation arrangements. Transgender people who wish to adopt may experience discrimination in adoption.
“This is rapidly growing area of research,” Herman said. “In particular, we need more research to better understand the impact of discrimination on transgender parents and their families.”
The study authors also recommend that federal agencies and administrators of national population-based surveys include questions to identify transgender respondents on surveys, such as the American Community Survey (ACS) and the National Survey on Family Growth (NSFG). The ability to identify transgender people in national, population-based surveys will help create national benchmarks for certain aspects of transgender parenting.