Sex Roles

, Volume 40, Issue 3, pp 249-263

First online:

Parents' Attitudes and Expectations About Children's Cross-Gender Behavior

  • N. Kenneth Sandnabba
  • , Christian Ahlberg

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The goals of the present study were to assessparents' attitudes toward crossgender boys and girls, aswell as to explore possible reasons for differentialevaluations. A total of 224 White parents of five-year old children completed questionnaires probingtheir attitudes toward cross-gender behavior inchildren, and their expectations regarding the futureadult behavior of typical boys, typical girls,cross-gender boys and cross-gender girls. The resultsrevealed that cross-gender boys were more negativelyregarded than crossgender girls and thatmen perceivedmore societal acceptance of cross-gender boys thanwomen. Cross-gender children were predicted tocontinue to show cross-gender behavior in adulthood andto be less psychologically welladjusted as adults than“typical” boys and girls. Cross-gender boyswere expected to be less psychologicallywell-adjusted than cross-gender girls. When predictingfuture sexual orientation, cross-gender boys were deemedto have a greater likelihood of being gay thancross-gender girls of being lesbian. Men expectedcross-gender boys to be more likely to show male-malesexual behavior than “typical” boys inadulthood while women predicted “typical”girls to be more likely to show female-female sexual behavior in adulthoodthan cross-gender girls.