The social construction of gender variance in childhood, adolescence and parenthood: a story completion study.

Catherine Butler, Jonathan Beavis, Aldallal Fatema, Serena Nelson-Hall, Iduna Shah-Beckley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Gender Variance (GV) adults and children face misunderstanding and discrimination, sometimes leading to mental health difficulties (Bockting et al., 2013). Family support has been found to buffer these difficulties or to compound them when lacking (Westwater, Riley & Peterson, 2019). However, little is known about how GV is considered in the context of families. In the current study, online story completion elicited 45 narratives of family life where a protagonist discloses their GV. The older the protagonist, the more seriously their disclosure was taken. All family members were depicted as being impacted by the disclosure, and social stigma and bullying was often the expected consequence. Heteronormative and gender binary thinking dominated the stories both in the descriptions of the protagonist’s transition from one gender to another, and in descriptions of the gender typical behaviour of the other family members. Non-binary genders were rarely considered and a dysphoric view of GV was often held.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Family Therapy
Early online date2 Aug 2021
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 2 Aug 2021


  • Gender varience
  • childhood
  • adolescence
  • parenthood
  • heteronormativity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)

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