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November 2018

Gender Diversity and Adolescent Well-being

Author Affiliations
  • 1Division of Adolescent Medicine, Department of Pediatrics and Communicable Diseases, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor
JAMA Pediatr. 2018;172(11):1010-1011. doi:10.1001/jamapediatrics.2018.2917

Gender-related health disparities have long been a topic of interest for researchers and clinicians, but in recent years, this research has become increasingly complex. With the growing public knowledge and visibility of transgender and gender-nonconforming people, gender diversity now includes much more than binary categorizations of male and female. The spectrum of gender diversity is especially evident in young people, who may identify as nonbinary, agender, or gender fluid.1 Apart from gender identity is the concept of gender expression, ie, the outwardly masculine or feminine way in which a person presents themselves. Gender nonconformity, then, refers to an outward presentation (eg, in clothing or mannerisms) as the opposite of one’s sex. This should be noted to be potentially different from gender identity. For example, a person assigned female sex at birth may have a female gender identity but still dress in a more masculine way and participate in traditionally masculine activities (eg, video games, sports). In lay terms, this person might be called a tomboy. The field of research on transgender and gender-nonconforming youth is small, with a predominant focus on transgender individuals.2 The study by Lowry et al3 adds to this body of literature by examining gender-related mental health disparities through the lens of gender nonconformity.