MYTH Desistance: 80% of trans kids do not transition

The Desistance Myth, which has been around since the second half of the 20th century, is the false claim that 80% of trans children do not go on to become trans adults.

It is frequently spread by people who oppose the humane treatment of trans children, and as a result has been picked up, too often uncritically,  by Mainstream Media. It emerges from studies that, on the basis of outdated diagnostic criteria, considered any child who did not fit rigid gender stereotypes to be trans.

When such children did not go on to transition, this was then characterised as “desistance”.

These have been widely critiqued both for their methodology1 and for the fact that they included children who were never trans to begin with2.

The most recent data however, from evidence submitted to a court case3 in Australia in 2017 by the Royal Australian Children’s Hospital based on data taken from 710 trans children, shows an actual desistance rate of between zero and 4%.


1 –Julia Temple Newhook, Jake Pyne, Kelley Winters, Stephen Feder, Cindy Holmes, Jemma Tosh, Mari-Lynne Sinnott, Ally Jamieson & Sarah Pickett (2018) A critical commentary on follow-up studies and “desistance” theories about transgender and gender-nonconforming children, International Journal of Transgenderism, 19:2, 212-224, DOI: 10.1080/15532739.2018.1456390

2 – Olson, Kristina R. Prepubescent Transgender Children: What We Do and Do Not Know Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry , Volume 55 , Issue 3 , 155 – 156.e3