Gender variance, a phenomenon present in youth across the developmental spectrum, refers to gender identity, expression, or behavior that aligns outside of culturally defined norms associated with a specific gender.
In recent years, the topic of childhood and adolescent gender variance has been magnified by growing media coverage profiling the unique health care needs of gender-variant youth and their families. Increased public awareness has resulted in greater referrals as well as a burgeoning number of clinics in the United States specializing in care for gender-variant youth.
Mental health clinicians, including psychologists, may be a family’s first resource for education and support, and often they play a critical role in supporting the health of youth with gender variance. For instance, mental health clinicians engage in screening for psychosocial problems and health risks, refer for gender-specific medical care, and provide ongoing advocacy and support.
Given the increasing demand for assessment and treatment services specific to gender-variant youth, a national platform is needed to assist with the development of psychological science and practice devoted to this population, and to increase educational opportunities for graduate students and trainees. Establishing a presence of this kind will help to mobilize clinical and research efforts to support gender-variant youth and their families across development.
The Gender Variance Special Interest Group
The Gender Variance Special Interest Group (GV SIG) of the Society of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology is dedicated to the promotion of policy, practice, research, and training directly relevant to the psychological assessment and treatment of children, adolescents, and emerging adults with gender variance (including gender-nonconforming, transgender, and/or genderqueer individuals).
Goals of the GV SIG:
The primary goal of the GV SIG is to provide a professional forum that supports the development of psychological science and practice designed to promote the well-being of gender-variant youth and their families, all of whom may experience family, educational, social and/or psychological difficulty due to the youth’s gender identity and/or expression. To this end, the GV SIG is interested in:
- Educating others about gender variant expression and identity
- Promoting awareness of the developmentally-specific service needs of these youth and their families
- Supporting research relevant to the psychological assessment and treatment of gender-variant youth
- Developing models of service delivery for these youth including those specific to multidisciplinary settings
- Defining culturally- and developmentally-informed best practices for these youth and their families
- Disseminating information about the psychological assessment and treatment of gender-variant youth
- Facilitating the development of graduate student curricula, practica, internship rotations, and post-doctoral opportunities related to gender-variant expression and identity.
The GV SIG also intends to pursue these goals through collaboration with other professional organizations (e.g., World Professional Association of Transgender Health) in a manner consistent with the goals of the Society of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology and the American Psychological Association.
The GV SIG seeks to be a national educational and collaborative resource for psychology students, clinicians, parents and families, and gender-variant youth and their families involved in mental health systems of care.
The GV SIG is interested in highlighting:
- The typical developmental milestones of gender-variant youth and subsequent variations associated with psychological difficulties
- Treatment needs of gender-variant youth and their families
- Psychosocial factors related to mental health outcomes among gender-variant youth
- Current state and federal policies and initiatives related to gender-variant and other lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) youth
- Best practices in service delivery (including multidisciplinary service delivery) among gender-variant youth and their families
The GV SIG will identify and establish research priorities for gender-variant youth and their families, with a particular emphasis on the psychological and social difficulties encountered by gender-nonconforming and transgender youth. This includes the identification and empirical exploration of theoretical models, measurement tools, methodological approaches, and interventions specific to these youth.
Psychological Service Delivery and the Promotion of Best Practices
The GV SIG seeks to articulate and highlight the best practices in service delivery (including multidisciplinary service delivery) to gender-variant youth experiencing psychosocial difficulties and their families. In this regard, the GV SIG will also develop and support efforts to begin to establish an empirical base focused on mental health service delivery to gender-variant youth and their families.
As a network of concerned scientists and practitioners, the GV SIG is interested in developing, organizing, and disseminating theory and knowledge that will improve the delivery of psychological services to children, adolescents, and emerging adults who are in need of support as they negotiate diverse pathways toward healthy gender development.
The GV SIG is interested in fostering excellence in teaching and training, so that mental health clinicians emerge from graduate training with a didactic foundation in relevant issues, and that clinical opportunities are available for those who wish to develop expertise grounded in the most up-to-date empirical information available.
Marco A. Hidalgo, Ph.D.
Chair, GV SIG
Diane Chen, Ph.D.
Co-chair, GV SIG
Gender & Sex Development Program, Ann and Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago, Dept. of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Northwestern University, Feinberg School of Medicine.